MLBPA Rejects MLB’s Recent 72-Game Season Offer, Will Not Counter

In an otherwise empty ballpark, grounds crew members continue to keep the Seattle Mariners' field in playing shape as the ballpark goes into its seventh week without baseball played because of the coronavirus outbreak Monday, May 11, 2020, in Seattle. A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that Major League Baseball owners have given the go-ahead to making a proposal to the players' union that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July weekend in ballparks without fans. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Major League Baseball’s latest proposal to the players’ union to restart the season has officially been rejected.

The widely expected move was first announced Saturday by Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark, and ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the players will not make a counteroffer:

MLBPA Communications @MLBPA_News

Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark today released the following statement: https://t.co/d1p3Oj4K70

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

The Major League Baseball Players Association has rejected MLB’s latest proposal and will not counter, sources tell ESPN. In a letter to the league, the union asked MLB to inform it of how many games it intends to play and when players should report.

MLB expressed its disappointment in a statement of its own, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic:

Evan Drellich @EvanDrellich

Statement from Major League Baseball: “We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play … “ https://t.co/oWxrLBiTj8

MLB’s most recent offer included a 72-game season with 80 or 70 percent prorated salaries for the players depending on whether there is a postseason. The union has been steadfast in its commitment not to consider pay cuts or revenue sharing unless the league’s owners open up their books to prove the financial accuracy of reported losses.

Clark cut off negotiations with the league, and Passan reported the union sent MLB a letter demanding that it inform the players of its plans for the season.

On June 10, Manfred told ESPN if the players won’t give in to the league’s demands he would “exercise” the right to set a 48-game season. In asking for MLB to tell the players “when and where” games will resume, union negotiator Bruce Meyer demanded a response by Monday afternoon, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal:

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Correction: The open issues concern on-field rules, player transactions, rosters and other items, not health and safety protocols. https://t.co/YA9gAzAAmD

Bob Nightengale @BNightengale

MLB is expected to respond to the union Monday:
A counter proposal is expected.

Multiple players took to Twitter to repeat the rallying cry, telling owners they are ready to play ball now:

Kevin Pillar @KPILLAR4

Tell us when and where! Been ready!

Lance McCullers Jr. @lmccullers43

@AstroHog6 @Chandler_Rome @MLBPA_News @MLB_PLAYERS We want to play for the prorated amount of salary we agreed to receive… OMG HOW TERRIBLE OF US!!!! We are legitimately asking for the MLB to dictate & implament the season, like ASAP. We are done negotiating. We want to play and are asking for that. Please exit stage left

Evan Marshall @emarsh31

What a time to announce a billion dollar deal to broadcast our (the players) games

Trea Turner @treavturner

When and where.. https://t.co/GKQ8E5k58y

Jake Diekman @JakeDiekman

Let us know owners, manfred. https://t.co/QVY8QDe59L

T A 7 @TimAnderson7

shid we been ready! #stopplaying https://t.co/gKbipU0rzO

Jameson Taillon @JTaillon19

@MLBPA_News @MLB_PLAYERS The league/owners have consistently tried to turn this pandemic into a CBA negotiation. Lets shut that down. Players have wanted to play the entire time and have been working their tails off to stay ready. It’s time to play ball. It’s what our fans deserve.

The union specifically pointed to outrage over MLB reportedly agreeing to a billion-dollar television broadcast deal with Turner Sports at the same time owners were saying they were bleeding money.

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers the league’s losses are “biblical,” while St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. told local radio 590 The Fan “the industry isn’t very profitable.”

Those notions are at odds with ForbesMaury Brown reporting in December that MLB saw a record $10.7 billion revenue in 2019.

Still, owners demanded players cut their salaries, in one instance offering a revenue-sharing plan that would upend the sport’s longtime economic structure, worrying players such a compromise would serve as a de facto salary cap.

“Our response has been consistent that such concessions are unwarranted, would be fundamentally unfair to players, and that our sport deserves the fullest 2020 season possible,” Clark wrote. “These remain our positions today, particularly in light of new reports regarding MLB’s national television rights—information we requested from the league weeks ago but were never provided.”

The breakdown in talks is particularly concerning for baseball fans given the players and owners are set to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement in 2021. With the MLBPA under the impression that owners refuse to negotiate in good faith, this could set up another contentious battle only a few months down the line.

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