After a weekend of meetings, conversations and even revised offers from the commissioner's office, the Major League Baseball Players' Association representatives voted overwhelmingly to reject a proposal from the owners and invite commissioner Rob Manfred to impose a schedule on them for 2020.
Major League Baseball owners voted unanimously Monday evening to have a 2020 season, and in a release said that the commissioner has asked the players to provide two things before a schedule will be set.
First, he wanted to know if the players could be ready to begin a preseason workout -- something like Spring Training 2.0 -- by July 1. And, second, the commissioner requested agreement on the health and safety protocols that have been the subject of ongoing negotiations. The answer to those questions will prompt the announcement of a 2020 season, its schedule, and when the teams will begin reporting.
The target is for a late-July start to the regular season. It's likely that opening day would be the final week of July.
The sides have discussed a regionally based schedule that would minimize travel and maximize the chance to play 60 games in about 70 days. The schedule remains the commissioner's call, as long as the number of off days or lack thereof is an issue for the players.
In an official statement, the union said players reiterated their hope to play a season and readiness to do so. The statement also includes a pivotal part of the negotiations happening outside of the financial terms that have gotten all of the attention, and says that the union is working on "finalizing a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols with Major League Baseball in the coming days" that would allow them to play a season.
The vote Monday essentially affirms the agreement between the union and owners that was finalized in March.
It is not clear where this leaves many of the elements discussed that both sides agreed upon.
The commissioner, based on the agreement hatched in late March, has the right to impose a season on the players as long as they are paid a prorated salary. But it could also mean that the playoffs are not expanded, and that a universal DH is not in play. Those elements have to be collectively bargained with the players, and while both sides have agreed on them the vote to reject the proposal may mean the commissioner cannot impose those elements unless he does so for the health and safety, which would make the universal DH still on the table for his consideration.
The other question left unanswered by the players is whether they intend to file a grievance about how the owners negotiated. They could argue that the owners bargained in bad faith and demand a financial penalty. Several weeks ago, reports indicated the union would file a $1 billion grievance.
According to multiple reports, the vote against the proposal was 33-5.
"While we had hoped to reach a revised back to work agreement with the league, the (players) remain fully committed to proceeding under our current agreement and getting back on the field for the fans, for the game, and for each other," the union's statement concludes.