Over the weekend, and on Monday, the Major League Baseball Players Association discussed whether or not they wanted to accept, or even counter the deal offered to them by Major League Baseball that would delay the start of the regular season by a month, shorten it to 154 games, add the designated hitter, and add two additional teams to the playoffs. Late on Monday night the MLBPA officially rejected the offer.
The Major League Baseball Players Association today released the following statement on Players’ commitment to begin the 2021 season on time:
Late last week, the MLBPA for the first time this offseason received a proposal from MLB to delay Spring Training and Opening Day by approximately one month.
Under the proposal, the end of the season would be delayed one week, the regular season would be shortened to 154 games and all 30 teams would be required to play several doubleheaders. Players would also be required to accept previously rejected proposals that link expanded playoffs with expansion of the designated hitter.
Although Player salaries would not be initially prorated to a 154-game regular season, MLB’s proposal offers no salary or service time protections in the event of further delays, interruptions, or cancellation of the season.
The MLBPA Executive Board and Player leadership reviewed and discussed the owners’ proposal throughout the weekend and today. The clear-cut result of these deliberations is that Players will not accept MLB’s proposal, will instead continue preparations for an on-time start to the 2021 season, and will accept MLB’s commitment to again direct its Clubs to prepare for an on-time start.
We do not make this decision lightly. Players know first-hand the efforts that were required to complete the abbreviated 2020 season, and we appreciate that significant challenges lie ahead. We look forward to promptly finalizing enhanced health and safety protocols that will help Players and Clubs meet these challenges.
The players did not make a counter offer. There are a lot of reasons for that, but it seems rather simple. According to Eugene Freedman, a national labor law lawyer, if the players made a counter offer then they have agreed to re-open the current collective bargaining agreement and that in turn makes it mandatory to renegotiate things, and if they can’t agree, that it would then give MLB the power to set the rules. He has tweeted about this many, many times, but he was doing so again last night and you can read his entire thread here if you’d like more details on it.
Simply put, the players are happy with the current collective bargaining agreement for this year and aren’t willing to make changes to it that aren’t going to overwhelmingly be in their favor. No one seems to believe that anything the players were offered by MLB was even slightly in their favor in this latest proposal. The players want to begin the season on time (for more than a few reasons). And with them not agreeing to the deal, the regular season – and spring training – are set to begin as scheduled.
I’ll still believe it when we see baseball happening. Both Arizona and Florida (less so Florida) may have a say in things, as could the various counties where stadiums are. It seemed a reasonable proposal to me, though what do I know in the end? Far better to start late then have to stop in the middle due to complications on multiple fronts.
We shall see.
Mark I have to ask what was reasonable about it? Normally in a negotiation there is give and take. From what I can see the owners are doing a good chunk of taking and offering nothing other than paying for 8 games that are not happening. No additional revenue above the current agreement for expanded players, no additional roster spots.
Merely talking in terms of increasing the “safety margin” which grows as time passes. More vaccinations = more coverage and progression toward that somewhat elusive “herd immunity”. Seems like a reasonable ask to push a month to make all that happen.
That being said, I’m just commenting as a fan, not as a player looking for a piece of post-season revenue. Frankly, I haven’t studied all that and don’t normally comment on it.
What I do realize is that even the lowest paid MLB player is living out a dream of some kind to play at that level. And I know it isn’t a huge bucket of money at the minimums, but there is a whole lot that comes along with play at that level as well. Plus when you compare MLB longevity to NFL, you definitely have a better shot at meeting the pension requirements and such in MLB, not to mention the injury rate and severity is lower.
In the end, I expected a counter, not just a “No” from the players. I know many see this as a watering contest between millionaires and billionaires. That’s not entirely accurate, but it does have at least some merit by those optics.
Personally, I’m not planning on going to any games, which would likely be minor league given where I live. I’ll get my MLB-tv subscription from T-Mobile (or should) so I can watch pretty much all I want. But I’m still not optimistic things will start “on time” regardless. Just my perspective.
The expectation of a counter offer, though, ignores the understanding of what happens if they make a counter offer. This isn’t a yard sale negotiation where they can come back with an offer they like and if the owners don’t, that the players can just walk away from the deal and keep things the same. Unfortunately that isn’t how it works in this case. By making a counter offer, the entire CBA is re-opened for negotiation right now and gives MLB owners more leverage to step in and do things exactly how they want if the two sides can’t come to an agreement “in the middle”.
And to be clear, MLB knows this and I believe that it’s exactly why they did what they did – made the offer and then leaked that they made an offer. They don’t expect 99% of baseball fans to understand what would happen if the players said no and made no counter offer. They expect to make the players look like the bad guys for not even “engaging” in negotiations.
Doug, those are excellent points that the most, myself included, were unaware of. Another example of the owners not operating in good faith and trying to make the players look bad through the media and fans uninformed takes. Thanks for doing your best to keep us informed.
Doug – I did not know about the auto-open of the CBA. That helps frame things in terms of the non-response.
I wish the owners would have counter offered a proposal that would have stated that players would not have their pay decreased if the games were shut down due to a government health concern or other reasons outside the players control. However, the players would have to test for covit three times a week, and any individual player who is determined a covid danger and not be allowed to play for, what, ten days would have his individual salary deducted for the days his missed. Maybe the players would have rejected that proposal too.
I know this may sound maybe a bit far fetched, but couldn’t the players or owners buy some kind of insurance policy against cancelled games? I am sure it would be loaded with a ton of restrictions and what ifs, but still. Just a thought.
They could but I could not imagine what the premiums would be like in the middle of a pandemic.
Side note the NCAA never insures the tournament and that came back and bit them in the butt last year.
Apparently they can not. A bunch of teams, and other companies, have actually been suing insurance companies over this kind of stuff because they believed they actually were covered, and yet they keep losing the lawsuits.
Actually, the owners ARE trying to buy an insurance policy – from the MLBPA Insurance Company.
Sounds like play ball to me, which I love.
I don’t blame the players for rejecting this. There are too many unknowns and the universal DH/expanded playoffs don’t really help players much.
Just saw an article saying Reds are nearing deal for Sean Doolittle. That would be a good signing for the bullpen
Doolittle to be a Red? Rosenthal and Rosecrans reporting it.
Need that lefty in the pen.
Did not realize the CBA was auto-reopened if they counteroffer, what a strange thing that clearly benefits the owners. At least it sounds like we have some clarity to the season and its rules.
1in 8 people in Arizona have tested positive for CoVid. So 15 teams are going to send hundreds of players and personnel into that environment, especially when the local governments said stay away for an extra month. Hard to say that isn’t better for players and their families.
Players probably give up some money now as 2020 will probably be a repeat.
The battle here should be the virus, not players and owners. Stupid move by players and they will not only lose money but the PR battle.
I don’t see how anyone can side with the Players Association these days. Since the pandemic hit they’ve refused to negotiate on anything, or even put forward an offer of their own. All they have done is said NO to everything and anything.
I don’t see that as negotiating in good faith.
Did you follow the link Doug provided? Leads to the opposite conclusion regarding good faith – see #13 and later.
That’s because this is not a negotiation. This is a person walking to your door and asking to buy your car that isn’t for sale, then being mad when you say no rather than saying “I actually want this amount for it”. Not to mention that by countering, it actually re-opens true, legal negotiations to an already cemented contract that could actually lead to the contract that is in place becoming worse for the players even if they don’t agree to change anything.
The players union offered up quite a few alternatives last year so your statement is is flat out wrong.
If this was so important why did the owners wait til the last minute to make this offer? Seems like something they could have done a month ago leaving time for possible negotiations.
Here is a link with some of the break down on back and forth between both sides.
I honestly don’t see how anyone can side with the owners. Nothing they have done has been in good faith. Last year after the pause they offered the same deal three times trying to pass it off as actually negotiating, when it was the same bad deal. This time they offered a deal that was clearly bad for the players and then try to make them look like the bad guys in the media for not offering a counter, when the players literally could not without losing.
I have zero respect for the MLB Players Association leadership.
They are as close to incompetent, or colluding with owners to keep a system rigged against players … as any “union” I see, and I come across several working all over Northern Ohio in my work.
Example – turn this offer down, but have multiple players ready as spokespeople (Lindor? Bryant? Verlander? Trout? Judge?) … with a on-point, united message of why it was .. and how important it is for the MLB players to make gains in next CBA, which can include owners’ propoals.
As it is … the MLB players (who I truly respect for their abilities) are being set up to not look good next winter, if negotiations go badly.
A general public recovering from a pandemic isn’t likely to feel sorry if MLB players suddenly start complaining about “fairness.”
Interesting comments for someone who claimed in a different thread he is “not interested in politics at any level”.
Under the owner’s proposal, the team’s would have the opportunity to make more money from expanded playoffs and increased attendance for pushing back games from tiny/no attendance games in April to later in the year where they probably hope to get 25% or more attendance. Some of you may disagree, but I believe most teams were hoping to have that extra revenue to fill out their rosters with quality. There are 187 players according to Fangraphs that currently don’t have jobs. Now that the players have refused to give any concession to the owner’s, the vast majority of those out-of-work players will either have to accept a bare minimum salary or be out of a job as teams like the Reds won’t be able to afford traditional market prices for players due to the inevitable lack of game attendance. I could be wrong, but I think they basically just shot themselves in the foot for 2021 thinking they are punishing the owners, when actually those free agents are the ones who will suffer. Maybe it will help them in the next negotiations, but I doubt it. Seems dumb to me and just another incident that could lead to no baseball in 2022.
After watching the fight over money last year, count me as a hard working average Joe that just wants to watch baseball. I have no sympathy for either side. Just get finished whatever needs done and play the games! For as bad as things have been some baseball would be a welcome distraction from the problems of the real world. Just my humble opinion.