MLB Submits New Proposal to MLBPA
Major League Baseball has submitted a new proposal to the Players Association in the latest attempt to get a schedule in place for the 2021 season.
The two sides continue to struggle to come to an agreement, and it’s unclear if this latest proposal will be considered.
This is a similar situation to what took place prior to the start of the 2020 season as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the sport. The 2020 season was just 60 games in length and included a number of rule changes, including an expanded playoff field.
The latest proposal from MLB calls for a 154-game regular season, but the players would be paid for a normal 162 games. Salary has been a major concern by the Players Association, and the owners are willing to concede in that area.
If this proposal were to be accepted, the league would push back the start of spring training until late March, and the regular season would not begin until late April. The season would also extend later into October, which could force some scheduling issues with the postseason.
The MLBPA has made it clear that it is concerned with the health and safety of pitchers as most around the league have been preparing to begin spring training on time. The MLBPA is also concerned that Commissioner Rob Manfred would gain more power under this proposal and could cancel games.
The league is also hoping for expanded playoffs and a universal designated hitter again in 2020, but the MLBPA has opposed those options in recent talks. Those two points are secondary, though, as the salary scale and the potential to have games canceled will cause the most argument.
Manfred has been calling for a delayed start to the season for months, something that has been done in other professional sports. MLB teams are expected to allow fans in attendance for games, but each team will be able to create its own rules and policies.
Cactus League Pushing For Delay
Eight cities that host MLB teams in the Cactus League have sent a letter to Major League Baseball asking them to delay the start of spring training. Maricopa County in Arizona continues to have a high rate of COVID-19 infections, and the cities are hoping to delay the start of the season.
There are 15 MLB teams that play games in the Cactus League, and those teams could be largely affected if the high rate of COVID-19 infections continues. Spring training was scheduled to begin on Feb. 27 in both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
The Grapefruit League is played in Florida, and there have not been any known issues brought forward from that league. It is unlikely that the league would allow the Grapefruit League to begin to play if the Cactus League is forced to be delayed.
While much of the country has been seeing a recent decline in positive COVID-19 cases, that is not the case in Arizona. The state is averaging just under 7,000 new positive cases per day, though the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes are playing in front of a limited number of fans during home games.
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