MLB 2020 season in Rob Manfred’s hands after another union rejection

Even as these tortured 2020 restart talks now face an end, baseball’s troubles might just be beginning.

The Major League Baseball Players Association voted against Rob Manfred’s proposal for a 60-game schedule with prorated pay on Monday, an industry source confirmed, and the commissioner appears poised to go to his nuclear option: A unilaterally implemented schedule, expected to be for about 50 games, with the players getting their prorated pay but without an expanded playoff and — most important – a spirit of cooperation.

The union’s 38-member Executive Board, featuring all 30 team representatives and the eight-member Executive Subcommittee, turned down Manfred’s 60-game package by a 33-5 count.

While Manfred is allowed to unilaterally implement the terms of this shortened campaign, by virtue of the deal he negotiated with the players in late March, the commissioner wanted to prevent that fate because 1) It would open up both sides to file grievances against the other for bargaining in bad faith; 2) It could lead to star players opting out as a result of the ill will; and 3) it wouldn’t feature the lucrative extra postseason contests. The implementation also could cancel features like tie games and placing a runner on second base in extra innings on which the two sides had agreed, although those still could be featured as safety/health protocols.

And with the Basic Agreement expiring after next year, this failure to find common ground during a pandemic bodes very poorly for the owners’ and players’ ability to work out another collectively bargained deal without a lockout or strike occurring in 2022.

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