MLB owners have blinked first and send a new proposal to players today.  After reaching a stalemate with players over how to play out the 2020-21 season, it came down to who would prove to be more stubborn – the owners or the players.

The owners had the ball in their court and rejected the most recent proposal handed to them by the MLB Players Association, asserting that they wouldn’t be offering any more proposals as players held their grounds for better salaries.  However, they finally relented and got together to create a new counter-counterproposal today.  This doesn’t mean baseball might be any closer to going live, though.

MLB Owners Try New Proposal

Team owners want players to know that they run the show – even if they don’t.  The new proposal would see MLB players receive 50% of their prorated salaries if a 76-game season is played, or 75% if the league can run a full postseason, as well.  They dumped the language that tried to get players to agree to take pay cuts of up to 80%, depending on their contractual salaries, but added that there would be no draft pick compensation should a player be given a qualifying offer before rejecting it and signing with another team.

Players don’t want to play 76 games – they’ve already made this clear – and definitely not if the schedule is asterisked by any major salary reductions.  Jesse Rogers, an ESPN reporter who follows MLB religiously, doesn’t expect the players to acquiesce to the new structure, explaining that agreeing to the proposal is “[not] likely, especially with the playoff caveat that would lower the amount if no postseason is played. The no draft pick compensation is a nice carrot, but that’s all it is. Bottom line: The players aren’t making that much more than from the 50-game possibility that exists.”

Three Strikes And You’re Out

If there were a chance that the league could get going on Independence Day, which would have been poignant on several levels, it is now out the window.  With three weeks of a modified Spring Training needed, it is now impossible to have games start by July 4.  There’s growing sentiment, fueled by the continued discord in the league, that there may not be any baseball at all.

ESPN correspondent Bradford Doolittle asserts, “I wouldn’t want to put a number on it, but in general, at least it’s a sign that the owners are still negotiating rather than becoming entrenched in the idea of implementing a mini-season. But the miasmic aspect of the talks could make this little sprout of an olive branch pretty much meaningless.”  This is the third new proposal presented to the MLB PA and is most likely going to be rejected like the others.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred still has the authority to set the number of games that would be played this season, although he prefers to see the owners and players reach an agreement first.  However, with each day that passes, the chances of being able to play a significant number of games dwindles, and the season might ultimately be played out across just 50 games.

ESPN’s David Schoenfield states, “Sure, 76 games is a little more legitimate than 50. But it all depends on the playoff structure. If you’re just going to put 22 or 24 teams or whatever into the playoffs, it doesn’t really matter much if 50 games or 76 decides the playoff teams. If you stick with the current 10-team playoff format, you definitely want to play as many regular-season as possible. Would the champion of a short season be looked at differently? Hmm, I guess that’s a question for Mariners fans or Indians fans or Padres fans. I don’t think they would care.”

MLB players have an ace up their jersey that they’ll pull out of the league doesn’t show them some sort of support for their new proposal.  They might be forced to make certain concessions this season, but the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is coming up for renewal soon.  When it does, team owners are going to have to be ready for players to become even more stubborn if a new CBA is to be signed.