MLB owners voted unanimously to proceed with the 2020 season under the terms of their March agreement with the MLB Players Association, the league said in a statement Monday night, after the union’s executive board voted down MLB’s latest offer of a 60-game season with expanded playoffs earlier Monday.
The owners’ vote now allows commissioner Rob Manfred to implement a schedule of his choosing — likely between 50 and 60 games.
In its statement, the league asked that the Players Association provide two pieces of information by 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, the first being whether players will be able to report to training within seven days, by July 1. The second is whether the union “will agree on the Operating Manual which contains the health and safety protocols necessary to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason.”
The MLBPA executive board, made up of 30 player representatives and an eight-member subcommittee, voted 33-5 against the league’s 60-game framework, which germinated from a meeting last week between Manfred and union executive director Tony Clark. After MLB rejected a 70-game proposal from the MLBPA, the league told the union that a negotiated agreement would follow the 60-game framework, which included expanded playoffs and a universal designated hitter.
Rather than accept the framework, the players shot it down and said in a statement that they expect Manfred to abide by their March 26 agreement, which allows the commissioner to set a schedule and guarantees the players fully prorated pay.
The league said in its statement it was “disappointed by this development.”
By rejecting the proposal, the players retain their right to grieve the terms of the late March agreement between the two sides. After spring training was shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league and the players agreed that when play picked up, players would be paid on a prorated basis and would discuss the economic feasibility of playing without fans in the stands. The players’ association has maintained that discussion had nothing to do with their pay. That disagreement has led to weeks of acrimony between the sides.
The union’s executive board met Saturday and elected to delay its vote on the league’s latest proposal in order to collect new data regarding testing for COVID-19 after several recent outbreaks at training facilities in Florida and Arizona and in major league cities, sources told ESPN. All MLB training camps were temporarily closed after multiple teams reported positive tests on Friday, and the league announced Saturday that a restart of training would occur only in teams’ home cities. The players then delayed the vote again Sunday, sources said, after Manfred made late tweaks to the proposal, offering in an email to Clark to cancel expanded playoffs and the universal designated hitter for 2021 if a full season isn’t played in 2020.