NEW YORK (AP) – The executive board of the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected a proposed 60-game schedule by a 33-5 vote, daring Commissioner Rob Manfred to give a unilateral order for the regular season’s start and provoke what figures to be lengthy and costly litigation over the impact of the coronavirus.
The union’s vote was confirmed by a person familiar with the meeting who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no announcement was immediately made.
Manfred was expected to take the next step later Monday as baseball descends into the type of labor strife that led to eight work stoppages from 1972-95.
With the collapse of a negotiated deal, playoffs are set to remain at 10 teams rather than expand to 16, and the proposed expansion of the designated hitter to games involving NL teams would be off. Also falling through for now is a planned experiment that would have had a runner start each extra inning on second base.
Spring training was suspended on March 12, two weeks ahead of scheduled openers, and the sides have reverted to the familiar financial infighting that fractured the sport in the past. An initial deal March 26 called for players to receive prorated salaries, but that agreement did not require MLB to play in empty ballparks.
Players refused to alter from their insistence on prorated salaries, and MLB finally agreed last week during a meeting between Manfred and union head Tony Clark. But the sides remained about $275 million apart after weeks of talks. MLB offered 60 games and $1.48 billion from salaries that originally totaled $4 billion, plus a $25 million postseason players’ pool. The union wanted 70 games and $1.73 billion plus a $50 million pool.
Players are expected to file a grievance, claiming MLB violated a provision in the March agreement requiring both sides to “work in good faith to as soon as is practicable commence play, and complete the fullest 2020 championship season and postseason that is economically feasible” consistent with several provisions. MLB is expected to file a grievance accusing the union of negotiating in bad faith.