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#pounditMonday, April 12, 2021

Report: MLB players unlikely to agree to delayed season

Rob Manfred

Once again, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are at odds over the scheduling of the upcoming baseball season. The good news is the outcome of a failed deal appears likely to be much less damaging this time.

Commissioner Rob Manfred proposed a 154-game season that starts a month late. The league believes it has offered a fair compromise for players while reducing health risks, and would at least like to receive a counteroffer from the MLBPA.

Lingering distrust on both sides is making things difficult, however. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the MLBPA has multiple concerns about the proposal. There is concern that language in the proposal could grant Manfred additional power to cancel games and cut into players’ earnings, and there are also worries about pushing back spring training when pitchers have already begun the process of getting physically ready for the scheduled Feb. 17 start date.

Players recognize that a delay could be reasonable, but there is a feeling that the proposal came too late, especially when some players are already in spring training cities with rented housing that would need to be canceled. One player also questioned the necessity of a delay when the NFL, NBA, and NHL are all playing.

The good news is that the drawn-out drama that followed similar disagreements prior to the 2020 season seems less likely to follow. According to Passan, the likeliest scenario if no agreement is reached is that players would report to spring training as currently scheduled. The alternative would be for Manfred to activate the national-emergency clause in the CBA, but that would inevitably lead to a showdown in court, which neither side wants.

No agreement would have other ramifications, though, particularly for rule changes. 2020 saw games played with a number of one-off rule changes, including 7-inning doubleheaders and expanded playoffs. There’s even growing momentum to make some of those changes permanent. Without a deal, though, the league may simply be forced to revert to the old rules until further notice.

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