The fraught negotiations between players and owners over the structure of a 2020 MLB season took another turn on Friday. According to a statement from the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), owners will not be making a revised proposal to players. Here is that statement in full:
"MLB has informed the Association that it will not respond to our last proposal and will not play more than 60 games. Our Executive Board will convene in the near future to determine next steps. Importantly, Players remain committed to getting back to work as soon as possible."
MLB recently offered the union a 60-game season with full pro-rated pay for players in exchange for expanded playoffs in 2020 and 2021 and a pledge not to file a grievance against owners. Some owners and perhaps commissioner Rob Manfred believed that Manfred's recent face-to-face meeting with union head Tony Clark ended with an agreement. However, that was not the case, and players counter-proposed a 70-game regular season. To hear MLB tell it, owners aren't budging again after making their first real concession for the first time throughout all of this.
Jon Heyman reports that the players will likely vote on Saturday whether to accept that most recent offer of 60 games or allow Manfred to set the schedule, per the March 26 agreement in which player compensation for 2020 was agreed upon. In that agreement, players granted Manfred the power to implement a season structure of his and the owners' choosing, so long as pro-rated salaries were paid based upon the number of regular season games. Also according to Heyman, Manfred will indeed set a schedule of 50-60 games if the players vote no on the 60-game proposal. In turn, though, the players would almost surely not agree to expand the current 10-team playoff structure, which ownership wants to grow to 16 teams.
Assuming this isn't just management posturing, it's now the players' decision to make. That would mean accepting the 60-game offer with playoffs expanded to 16 teams for 2020 and 2021 or allow Manfred to force a season with the old playoff format, their right to file grievance intact, and 50-60 games.
It's worth noting, however, that owners were supposedly done negotiating at a prior juncture and unwilling to grant full pro-rated salaries in keeping with the March agreement. Manfred's and Clark's meeting, however, marked a restart. Given the whipsaw trajectory of these negotiations -- recall that Manfred guaranteed a season before, days later, expressing doubt that a season would take place -- it's perhaps too much to say that this is the final twist.
Players previously said they'd be willing to play, per terms of the March agreement, under Manfred's chosen structure. "Tell us when and where" was the messaging and rallying cry as players signaled the first end to negotiations. That option now appears to be one of two paths remaining for the 2020 season.