The 2020 Major League Baseball season remains a figment of negotiation.
MLB owners made a new proposal Friday, according to an industry source, one that players can be expected to respond to with an old and familiar response: No deal.
The latest MLB offer calls for a 72-game regular season, with 70 percent of the players’ prorated salaries guaranteed, and the percentage going to 80 percent if the playoffs can be completed.
The length of the season is shorter than what the players want, but it’s the 20-30 percent salary cut that is expected to elicit the negative response.
From the beginning of the negotiations, the players have been steadfast in not giving back a percentage point of the 100 percent prorated salaries they agreed to with the owners March 26.
Friday marked Day 78 since that agreement.
The owners’ first proposal May 11 called for an approximately 40 percent pay cut off the prorated salary at 82 games.
In subsequent proposals, the owners reduced the pay-cut percentage but only while simultaneously reducing the number of games, which essentially did not change the amount of money players would earn. The reason owners have asked for a pay cut has to do with a clause in the March 26 agreement that reportedly says the sides shall discuss compensation "in good faith” if the games are to be played without fans in the seats — which is how a season of any length is expected to play out.
On June 8, the owners proposed a 76-game schedule with a 25 percent cut if the playoffs were completed and 50 percent cut if they were not.
In their two previous counterproposals, the players asked for 114 regular-season games on May 31 and 89 games on June 9.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to impose a regular season without the players’ approval. Manfred, who said Wednesday night that the owners’ next proposal would represent a significant step toward the players, could schedule a season of approximately 50 games at 100 percent of players’ prorated salaries. In that plan, players would still make roughly the same playing a shorter schedule than they would in a longer one.
Each day that passes without a deal shortens the maximum length of a regular season, considering the general agreement that players would need three weeks in a second spring/summer training to be game-ready.
The owners proposed starting the season July 14 in order to complete the regular season by Sept. 27 for two reasons. Their team of medical and public health experts are warning of a resurgence of COVID-19 when the weather turns cooler, so the league does not want the postseason to extend into November. The other: A canceled or shortened postseason threatens lucrative TV revenue.
Assuming the players do not change their stance about insisting on 100 percent of their prorated salaries, the next step would be for the union to make its third counterproposal, one that will likely be in the neighborhood of an 82-game regular season.