As I mentioned yesterday, MLB is preparing to move forward with an official return-to-play proposal this week. Yesterday, the league’s 30 team owners agreed to a restart plan and they will submit that proposal to the MLBPA today. Here are some of the details of said plan:
  • 82-game regional schedule and universal DH: A regional schedule would help limit travel and isolate teams geographically. Teams would play games against opponents within their division and in the opposite’s league coinciding region (AL East/NL East, AL Central/NL Central, AL West/NL West). A universal DH would be put in place because of all the interleague play matchups and would also help protect pitchers
  • 30-man active rosters with a 20-player taxi squad: The league would essentially allow teams to carry a 50-man roster to help deal with a condensed schedule and limit injury risk
  • 14 teams in the postseason with games played in home cities in October: With a shortened regular season, MLB is looking at an expanded postseason that would include seven teams per league. The league still wants the postseason to take place in October just in case there’s another coronavirus wave in the fall
  • 50/50 revenue split for players and owners: This is where things could get dicey. The league already agreed to prorated salaries in March, but owners are seeking additional pay reductions to account for revenue lost from games being played without fans
As you can imagine, that last bullet point will be the biggest hurdle in this process. Scott Boras has urged players to consider the 50/50 split a non-starter (shocker), and MLBPA boss Tony Clark has been critical of the initial proposal already. Clark previously said that the MLBPA will not revisit the revenue share issue after having agreed to terms on prorated salaries a few month ago.
Meanwhile, money may be the most pressing issue for some but there are concerns elsewhere too. Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle voiced his concerns with the proposal yesterday and raised a number of issues that need to be addressed , many of them having to deal with “health protections for players, families, staff, stadium workers and the workforce it would require to resume a season.” Doolittle wants more information about the proactive/reactive protection measures that will be taken, and that seems more than fair.
Judging from the early responses, it’s probably safe to assume there’s going to be more back-and-forth to come after this initial proposal. We should probably anticipate some counter-proposals from both sides. At this rate, my biggest fear is this process being prolonged and increasingly escalating into a stubborn battle of two bickering sides while we all have to just sit and watch while the season hangs in the balance. That just seems unbearable, especially given the state of sports at the moment.

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