MLB 2020 season plan: Owners approve proposal for July start, begin negotiations with players union

On Monday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred held a conference call with the 30 team owners to discuss the league’s plan to restart the 2020 season. The plan was approved, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports, and will be turned over to the MLBPA on Tuesday. The first proposal is just that: a first proposal. There will surely be counter-proposals and counter-counter-proposals, so on and so forth.

Here are the major items included in MLB‘s proposal, sources familiar with Monday’s conference call have told CBS Sports:

  • 82-game regional schedule and universal DH
  • 30-man active rosters with a 20-player taxi squad
  • 14 teams in the postseason with games played in home cities in October
  • 50/50 revenue split for players and owners

The hope is Opening Day will take place in early July. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports teams would have the option of holding training camp at their spring training complex or their home ballpark in June. Some clubs may prefer to keep players at home, and also escaping the Arizona heat and Florida humidity in June is desirable. The downside of training at home is a lack of space — spring training complexes have multiple fields — and competition. Teams would be limited to intrasquad games.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark responded to the revenue-sharing plan Monday night, implying it’s something the union will not agree to.

Here’s a breakdown of MLB’s proposal to start the 2020 season following the COVID-19 pandemic. Many other issues also have to be sorted out beyond the major items outlined below.

82-game regional schedule and universal DH

In an effort to limit travel and essentially isolate teams geographically, clubs could play 82-game regional schedules. The two East divisions would play each other, the two Central divisions would play each other, and the two West divisions would play each other. The two-league, six-division format would remain, though the increase in interleague games necessitate a universal DH. The universal DH would also protect pitchers. MLB and the MLBPA are worried about increased injury risk following the shutdown.

Should the regular season begin in early July, the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium would be postponed, according to Nightengale. It’s unclear whether it would be rescheduled for another time or canceled entirely. The All-Star Game is scheduled for July 14 and the four-day All-Star break would presumably be used to make up regular season games instead.

30-man active rosters with a 20-player taxi squad

For all intents and purposes, MLB is proposing clubs have 50-man rosters in 2020 to help deal with the condensed schedule and limit injury risk. There will be 30 active players for each game with another 20 on what amounts to a taxi squad. It is extremely unlikely there will be a minor-league season in 2020 and a 20-man taxi squad is the best way to keep players ready and available as injury replacements and call-up options. Other minor leaguers could take part in what amounts to an extended spring training at each team’s complex, though nothing is finalized on that front yet.

Expanded postseason

In an effort to recoup revenue and make things a little more fair following a shortened regular season, MLB will propose an expanded postseason field. Specifically, they are expected to propose the seven-teams-per-league format that was leaked over the winter. Here’s a refresher on how that would work:

  • Teams with the best record in each league get a wild card round bye.
  • Two other division winners and top wild card team host all games of three-game series in wild card round.
  • Two other division winners get to pick their wild card round opponents. The other two wild cad teams are paired up.
  • Players are not paid salaries during the postseason, but they do receive bonuses through postseason shares, and the MLBPA would presumably be on board with an expanded format. Maybe not this format, specifically, but a format that puts more teams in the tournament, generates more revenue, and leads to more postseason shares.

    It should be noted plans to play additional regular season games in October and push the postseason back into November have been shelved for the time being. MLB doesn’t want to have to shut down the sport in the middle of the postseason if here’s another COVID-19 wave in the fall. Their goal is to play as many regular season games and a complete postseason as quickly as possible.

    Revenue-sharing plan

    Despite agreeing to prorated salaries in March, MLB and the owners will seek additional pay reductions from the MLBPA to account for the revenue lost by not having fans in the stands. MLB will propose a 50/50 revenue split in 2020. How that money is distributed among the players is presumably up to the MLBPA to figure out.

    Revenue sharing arrangements are common in other sports — NFL players get 48 percent, NHL players get 50 percent, and NBA players get 49 to 51 percent depending on expected revenue — but it would be unprecedented in MLB. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark has said the union is done negotiating salary terms after agreeing to prorated salaries. The salary reduction issue figures to be the most significant hurdle that has to be cleared.

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