Drayer: MLB may be closer to games, but battle lines continue to be drawn

Jun 13, 2020, 8:22 PM | Updated: Jun 16, 2020, 1:43 pm
MLB Mariners...
The players rejected the latest MLB proposal and appear done with negotiations. (Getty)

I suppose the good news is we no longer have to endure the back and forth of proposals – some officially presented, others leaked – from MLB and the MLBPA, suffer the disappointment of finding that the actual numbers look worse than suggested percentages and have hopes dashed that perhaps there was a little wiggle room when it came to pro rata.

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That’s the only good news that comes with today’s announcement from the MLBPA following their rejection of the latest return to play proposal from MLB.

The MLBPA has been consistent in demanding the full pro rata for games played as agreed to in the March 26 agreement following the coronavirus shutdown. In their latest proposals MLB who has maintained that without fans in the stands they would suffer great financial loss has offered a 76-game season at 75% of prorated salaries and a 72-game season at 83% prorated salary, each fully guaranteed only if the post season is completed. Saturday afternoon the MLBPA put an end to what could only be loosely describes as “negotiations” between the two sides.

The end will most likely bring on actual baseball as the MLBPA has demanded that the league inform them of their intention to unilaterally impose a season – which is allowed under the March 26 agreement – by the end of Monday.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who guaranteed baseball in 2020 in interviews on two different networks Wednesday prior to the beginning of the draft, is expected to implement a season of 48-52 games with players receiving their full prorated salaries. These games however would be played in the absence of a new agreement following an extremely damaging month of bitter back and forth with absolutely nothing to show for it.

A grievance filed by the players union is likely to follow as they will argue they were ready and willing to play a longer season which the March 26 agreement calls for. “Each of the parties shall work in good faith to as soon as is practicable commence, play, and complete the fullest 2020 championship season and postseason that is economically feasible: consistent with the other provisions.”

Two hours after the Tweet from the MLBPA, MLB issued the following statement which would seem indicate they too could file a grievance as they contend that March 26 agreement was contingent on games being played with fans in the stands.

“We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The MLBPA understands that the agreement reached on March 26th was premised on the parties’ mutual understanding that the players would be paid their full salaries only if play resumed in front of fans, and that another negotiation was to take place if Clubs could not generate the billions of dollars of ticket revenue required to pay players.  The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that Clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season.  We will evaluate the Union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March Agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.”

Battle lines continue to be drawn. In the meantime, we’ve seen players working out, some at team facilities, preparing for a season in which it’s hard to believe most don’t want to play. We’ve also seen teams start to make adjustments to their ballparks necessary for new safety protocols and other preparations to travel and play.

Both sides are seemingly moving in the same direction, but not working together to bring the game back. As a result, we are left with no agreement, a forced shortened season likely, further erosion of an already bad relationship and a CBA set to expire after the 2021 season.

Today’s news may bring us closer to actual games, but absent of any agreement it is hardly good news.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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Drayer: MLB may be closer to games, but battle lines continue to be drawn