Players’ Good-Faith Proposal for 89 Games Will Be Rejected, Leaving Negotiations ‘Nowhere’

The MLBPA made its latest proposal Tuesday, dropping the number of games from 114 to 89 while maintaining the option for expanded playoffs this season and next. It was a big step toward the middle ground, but owners are expected to reject it with little to no debate. The biggest hurdles are money and time, both of which dictate the league’s motives.

Full prorated pay over 89 games comes to a little over $2.3 billion in player compensation, about $800 million more than owners are willing to shell out. As the league’s proposals have made very clear, the threshold for payroll is around $1.5 billion no matter how many games are played. Speaking of which, the parameters of the schedule are also getting in the way.

The players want to push the season out to October 11, a full two weeks beyond the hard stop MLB has set in its proposals. That timing isn’t an accident, as the players want to avoid having their postseason overlap the NBA Finals, which will end by October 12.

We’ve heard to this point that the owners’ refusal to extend the regular season past its normal boundaries was a matter of avoiding a second coronavirus wave, but that’s not really the case at all. I know you’re as gobsmacked as I was, but please overcome your shock and keep up with me. As Pedro Gomez tweeted, the real motivation is not having to change TV deals or run up against the general election on November 3.

Despite this obvious attempt to move toward the middle, initial reaction from the management side was anything but positive. Jon Heyman tweeted that one ownership source said, “We’re nowhere” in terms of the negotiations. Perhaps even more damning, Jared Diamond was told that owners believe the players “are not trying.”

I guess if you consider making meaningful changes to the offer rather than moving numbers around in a bumbling attempt to confuse people to be not trying, the players are indeed not trying. Including a $5 million joint fund to support minor leaguers and social justice is definitely not trying. Lowering the number of games by 25 and offering to make owners more money with expanded playoffs might even be the most not-tryingest thing I’ve ever seen.

Meanwhile, owners are crying so much about how unprofitable their industry is that they’re having to build arks instead of investing hundreds of millions into commercial development around their ballparks. If these latest updates don’t have you on the players’ side on this matter, well, I don’t imagine anything will. Who am I kidding, those folks got too tired from carrying water to read this far.

There is going to be a season, of that I’m becoming a little more certain by the day. But it’s going to be on the league’s terms and it’s going to create an even bigger mess ahead of the 2022 campaign. I just hope the owners have figured out how to save some of those profits they don’t make by then.

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