This Week in No Baseball: MLB readies to impose a season

After the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected the league’s latest proposal for a 60-game season, Rob Manfred put in motion his right to impose a schedule by sending the players … a 60-game season.

The MLBPA retained its right to file a grievance, which could be worth $1 billion if it wins, and might still be worth plenty of money in a loss (owners could have to reveal some of their finances in order to support their claims). Jeff Passan tidily sums up what had been talked about but wasn’t included:

Under imposition, the deal is spare. Players would receive the full prorated share of their salaries — about 37% of their full-season salaries and $1.5 billion total. The postseason would remain at 10 teams. Players would not receive forgiveness on the $170 million salary advance they received as part of the March agreement and would get no money from the postseason. Players would not agree to wearing on-field microphones. Teams would not wear advertising patches on their uniforms. The universal designated hitter likely would remain in place, as it’s part of the health-and-safety protocol.

What do the players get out of it? The aforementioned right to grieve and full prorated salaries, which weren’t regarded as a given for a long time. The negotiations between the league and union took a month, but the owners spent the first three weeks of that trying to pay the players significantly less than what they were owed. The first proposal that actually included full prorated salaries was discussed just five days earlier.

If you’ve stopped caring about that, then the big takeaways are:

Report date: The league wants to know if players can report to spring training by July 1, which is contingent on how quickly players can agree on the health and safety protocol.

Opening Day: If players report in time, the schedule would start July 24-26, ending on Sept. 27.

Then again, all it takes is a couple of prominent COVID-19 outbreaks to throw it all into turmoil again. The world’s top tennis player just tested positive for it, which is yet another reminder that the pandemic can upset any plans at any time.

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Unrelated note: The White Sox announced the signing of Garrett Crochet for full slot value:

(Photo of Rob Manfred by Arturo Pardavila III)

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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What I took away from yesterday’s vote and Manfred’s announcement later that evening, is that at this point, the players association recognized that if they were only going to be able to play around 60 games no matter what, then they may as well keep their right to file a grievance (and send a message to Manfred/owners with a display of unity in the process). From their perspective there was little or nothing to gain by approving the proposal. The truncated season that was later announced is very similar to what they were voting on with one big difference, the waiver of grievances. Perhaps the players association would have been willing to accept the waiver if there were many more games in the proposal, but that vote would have had to happen several weeks ago to be feasible. I don’t think all of the owners were comfortable with that many games without fans.

As Cirensica

What are they gonna grieve on? I don’t quite get that part? Do you think it will actually happen?


I could definitely use an explainer on how grievances work in theory and inn practice and what this grievance would depend on

As Cirensica

Thank you Jim,

So the grievance would arise if the MLB unilaterally sets the schedule under conditions that will make players earn 1 billion less. That sounds like a good reason to file a grievance.


The league and players both signed an agreement in March that required the commissioner to make his “best efforts” to schedule as many games as possible. The March agreement also specified that the players would get prorated salaries, which is why the players want to play as many games as possible.

The players are threatening to file a grievance on the grounds that the commissioner could have started the season around now if he made his “best effort,” but instead waited until July 1 to start spring training and late July to start the season. Also, the players might argue that the commissioner should have made the season end later than normal so they can have more games.


…Or just play a few additional weeks into November, with a warm-weather, neutral-site World Series. But that was stubbornly never on the table, under the veil of “heath” reasons, which was just a cover for the owners.


Fauci has been clear that playing into the fall in a bad idea.


As it turned out, yes. But they were gambling a bit that Manfred wouldn’t choose to implement an even shorter season, which would have cost them more money. Although that may have also improved their odds of winning a grievance.


Why is universal DH part of of the health-and-safety protocol?


I was wondering the same thing. I’m a supporter of universal DH but this sounds like a stretch.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I think health as in not taxing pitchers more than you need to so that they don’t get hurt as opposed to covid related health.

Many thanks.

Eagle Bones

Thought I read somewhere is was considered a positive for health and safety as there would presumably be additional roster shuffling associated with interleague games (i.e. NL teams calling up an extra bat from the taxi squad, AL teams calling up an extra arm), so this would serve to decrease roster shuffling to some degree.

My confusion is I think I’ve seen it listed as something the owners wanted (vs. something the players wanted). That part I did not get.

As Cirensica

Will the players overseas get a special permission to fly in the US? Isn’t a “stay home for 14 days rule” imposed to all travelers in the US?

Eagle Bones

Saw someone on twitter also raise the question of whether guys are going to have visa issues getting back. There’s also the question of how teams are going to travel back and forth to Toronto if they’re going to play in their home parks (believe there is a one-way travel ban still in place).

As Cirensica

I don’t see “baseball players” listed in the exemption to travel restrictions.


I know Trump is big on the rule of law, but I feel like it there are issues, exceptions will be made and quickly. If Trump were the type to play favorites, the demographics of the owners and the fans plays in their favor.