Major League Baseball and the Players Association kicked off negotiations about resuming the 2020 season on Tuesday. The two sides began talks after commissioner Rob Manfred held a Monday conference call with the league's 30 owners, who approved a restart proposal that would have the 2020 regular season begin in early July.
Here are the major items included in MLB's proposal, sources familiar with Monday's conference call have told CBS Sports:
- 82-game regional schedule and universal DH
- 30-man active rosters with a 20-player taxi squad
- 14 teams in the postseason with games played in home cities in October
- 50/50 revenue split for players and owners
The first virtual meeting between the league and the players association reportedly took place for several hours on Tuesday, and no deal was reached. The discussion is expected to continue Wednesday and perhaps beyond that. Per multiple reports, including from Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the league did not formally present its revenue split proposal with the union on Tuesday.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark responded to the revenue-sharing plan Monday night, implying it's something the union will not agree to.
Below is a breakdown of MLB's proposal to start the 2020 season following the COVID-19 pandemic. Many other issues also have to be sorted out beyond the major items outlined below.
82-game regional schedule and universal DH
In an effort to limit travel and essentially isolate teams geographically, clubs could play 82-game regional schedules. The two East divisions would play each other, the two Central divisions would play each other, and the two West divisions would play each other. The two-league, six-division format would remain, though the increase in interleague games necessitate a universal DH. The universal DH would also protect pitchers. MLB and the MLBPA are worried about increased injury risk following the shutdown.
Should the regular season begin in early July, the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium would be postponed, according to Nightengale. It's unclear whether it would be rescheduled for another time or canceled entirely. The All-Star Game is scheduled for July 14 and the four-day All-Star break would presumably be used to make up regular season games instead.
30-man active rosters with a 20-player taxi squad
For all intents and purposes, MLB is proposing clubs have 50-man rosters in 2020 to help deal with the condensed schedule and limit injury risk. There will be 30 active players for each game with another 20 on what amounts to a taxi squad. It is extremely unlikely there will be a minor-league season in 2020 and a 20-man taxi squad is the best way to keep players ready and available as injury replacements and call-up options. Other minor leaguers could take part in what amounts to an extended spring training at each team's complex, though nothing is finalized on that front yet.
In an effort to recoup revenue and make things a little more fair following a shortened regular season, MLB will propose an expanded postseason field. Specifically, they are expected to propose the seven-teams-per-league format that was leaked over the winter. Here's a refresher on how that would work:
Players are not paid salaries during the postseason, but they do receive bonuses through postseason shares, and the MLBPA would presumably be on board with an expanded format. Maybe not this format, specifically, but a format that puts more teams in the tournament, generates more revenue, and leads to more postseason shares.
It should be noted plans to play additional regular season games in October and push the postseason back into November have been shelved for the time being. MLB doesn't want to have to shut down the sport in the middle of the postseason if here's another COVID-19 wave in the fall. Their goal is to play as many regular season games and a complete postseason as quickly as possible.
Despite agreeing to prorated salaries in March, MLB and the owners will seek additional pay reductions from the MLBPA to account for the revenue lost by not having fans in the stands. MLB will propose a 50/50 revenue split in 2020. How that money is distributed among the players is presumably up to the MLBPA to figure out.
Revenue sharing arrangements are common in other sports -- NFL players get 48 percent, NHL players get 50 percent, and NBA players get 49 to 51 percent depending on expected revenue -- but it would be unprecedented in MLB. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark has said the union is done negotiating salary terms after agreeing to prorated salaries. The salary reduction issue figures to be the most significant hurdle that has to be cleared.