MLB Players Association will reject MLB’s proposal for a 154-game schedule and a delayed start to the 2021 season, report says

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LaMond Pope, Chicago Tribune
·2 min read
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Major League Baseball has proposed a 154-game schedule with full pay to the players union, Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reported.

USA Today is reporting the Major League Baseball Players Association plans to reject the proposal, which also included expanding the playoffs to 14 teams and retaining the universal designated hitter.

Under terms of the proposal, the schedule would be delayed a month and extended by one week. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the plan had spring training beginning March 22 and the regular season starting April 28. The postseason would spill into November.

According to the USA Today story, the proposal would give MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred “expanded authority” to suspend the season.

Among the concerns for the MLBPA, according to USA Today, is that teams could have less desire to spend on free agents if it’s easier to qualify for the postseason. Also, according to the article, a shorter season could hurt the union’s position heading into negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement. Fewer days off in a shortened season is also a safety concern, the article said.

The USA Today story listed an opportunity for more COVID-19 vaccinations to become available and the possibility of fans in attendance as reasons MLB is pursuing the delayed start.

Last week, reports surfaced of a letter from the Cactus League to Manfred asking for a delay to the start of spring training because of the pandemic.

The discussion brought to mind last spring, when proposals and counterproposals dominated the MLB headlines while the game was on pause because of the pandemic. After weeks of negotiations that couldn’t produce an agreement, the fight concluded when MLB unilaterally issued a 60-game schedule.

Last season included a universal DH for the first time. The sides later agreed to expand the playoffs from 10 to 16 teams for 2020.

But if a deal isn’t reached this year, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan pointed out, opening day would remain slated for April 1. Pitchers and catchers are currently scheduled to report for the Chicago White Sox on Feb. 17, with the first full-squad workout Feb. 22. The White Sox and Cubs are scheduled to open their Cactus League schedules Feb. 27.