FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2017, file photo, Major League Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark, answers questions at a news conference in Phoenix. Commissioner Rob Manfred says there might be no major league season after a breakdown in talks between teams and the union on how to split up money in a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The league also said several players have tested positive for COVID-19. Two days after union head Clark declared additional negotiations futile, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem sent a seven-page letter to players’ association chief negotiator Bruce Meyer asking the union whether it will waive the threat of legal action and tell MLB to announce a spring training report date and a regular season schedule. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2017, file photo, Major League Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark, answers questions at a news conference in Phoenix. Commissioner Rob Manfred says there might be no major league season after a breakdown in talks between teams and the union on how to split up money in a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The league also said several players have tested positive for COVID-19. Two days after union head Clark declared additional negotiations futile, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem sent a seven-page letter to players’ association chief negotiator Bruce Meyer asking the union whether it will waive the threat of legal action and tell MLB to announce a spring training report date and a regular season schedule. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

MLB talks stall with start date in flux; 40 players, staff test positive for COVID-19

Players want 70 games and $275 million more than teams are offering

An email from baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to union head Tony Clark led to a balk in the drawn-out talks to start the pandemic-delayed season, which now won’t begin by July 19.

The executive committee of the players’ association was set to vote and reject Major League Baseball’s latest offer for a 60-game season on Sunday.

“I really believe we are fighting over an impossibility on games,” Manfred said in the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “The earliest we will be ready for players to report is a week from Monday, given the need to relocate teams from Florida. That leaves 66 days to play 60 games. Realistically, that is the outside of the envelope now.”

Players want 70 games and $275 million more than teams are offering. They are worried that if a resurgence of the new coronavirus causes the 2020 season to be cut short, the deal being negotiated would lock in innovations for 2021 and lessen the union’s bargaining power.

“Tony, am writing to reiterate what I told you on the phone a few minutes ago,” Manfred wrote. “Given the Covid developments, I understand that the players are concerned that the 2020 season will be truncated beyond the agreed upon number of games (for example, we agree to play 60 and can only play 40). If that were to happen, I would be prepared to eliminate the 2021 components of the deal. That would mean that we would not get the expanded playoffs in 2021 and the DH rule would revert to the current rule (DH in AL, no DH in NL).”

READ MORE: Commissioner says there might not be an MLB season this year

Players didn’t take a vote and will consider their next move Monday.

The 2020 only items in the deal include starting extra innings with runner on second and a discussion of whether to allow tie games after a specified total of innings plus player re-entry in extra innings.

Some players would prefer there not be a deal and that Manfred unilaterally order the schedule. Because players insisted on full prorated pay, he threatened a schedule of about 50 games. MLB agreed to prorated pay when Manfred met with Clark last week.

The proposed deal would give Manfred the right to suspended or cancel play if “restrictions on travel throughout the United States are imposed” or if he determines after consulting medical experts and the union that there has been a change in circumstances posing “an unreasonable health and safety risk to players or staff to stage those games, even without fans in attendance.”

MLB’s proposal for 60 games includes $1.48 billion in salary plus a $25 million post-season players’ pool, while the union’s plan includes $1.73 billion in salary and a $50 million pool.

Absent an agreement, the union would file a grievance claiming MLB violated the provision in the March 26 agreement recognizing “that each of the parties shall work in good faith to as soon as is practicable commence, play, and complete the fullest 2020 championship season and post-season that is economically feasible,” subject to several provisions.

ALSO READ: Vancouver among cities shortlisted for NHL hub as league announces playoff plans

Those provisions say that without MLB’s consent, the season shall not start until there are no legal restrictions on playing in front of fans at the 30 regular-season ballparks, no relevant travel restrictions and no health or safety risk to players, staff or spectators to playing in the 30 regular ballparks. The agreement also says the sides “will discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites.”

MLB had proposed having the season run from July 19 or 20 through Sept. 27, the shortest since the 1870s, while the union agreed to the start date and said it should end Sept. 30, or earlier using doubleheaders. Both sides proposed pitchers and catchers report June 26, followed by position players two days later, but that schedule has come and gone, like the proposed Fourth of July start.

A rise in positive tests last week in Florida caused MLB to close all 30 training camps for deep cleaning and disinfecting. The Philadelphia Phillies announced Friday that five players had tested positive for COVID-19 and person familiar with the process, speaking on condition of anonymity, 40 players and team employees had tested positive as of noon EDT Sunday. MLB sent 200 COVID-19 tests to each team to be used over the weekend, the person said.

Twenty-nine of the 30 teams now intend to hold training at their regular season stadiums rather than spring training sites. Toronto may be an exception due to Canadian federal and Ontario provincial restrictions.

Manfred’s email referred to another issue: termination pay for players released prior to opening day.

“I think I have previously agreed to give you full termination pay for players who were salary arbitration eligible in 2019, are on non guaranteed contracts and are terminated in spring training,” Manfred wrote. “Those players would get the numbers of days of termination pay equal to the number of games we agree to play, subject to the repayment of salary advances.”

___

Ronald Blum, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusMLB

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

President of the West Coast Fine Arts Show, Brian Croft, said pandemic restrictions necessitated a shift to an entirely online event this year, running until April 30. (File photo)
The West Fine Art Show shifts to an online-only event amid tighter health orders

Website version retains the flavour of the annual live exhibition

A vaccine-filled needle awaits injection, during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic held Jan. 15, 2021 at Amica White Rock. Community Living B.C.-funded workers learned April 8 that they, too, can now be vaccinated. (Tracy Holmes file photo)
Support workers for those with disabilities given vaccine priority

News shared with Community Living B.C.-funded staff on April 8

British Columbia Attorney General David Eby. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Attorney General covers housing, homelessness and justice reform in Surrey Zoom

‘I think it would be really great to hold some sessions in Surrey,’ Eby says of legislative assembly

Scott Wheatley stands with the main Kenyan and Ugandan umpiring crew that he trained at the Nakirebe Complex outside of Kampala in 2020. Wheatley, a member-at-large with Softball B.C. is supporting a recent open letter from the sporting body that calls on the government to reinstate gameplay for kids in organized sports. (Photo: Submitted)
Softball B.C. urges provincial health officer to lift ban on gameplay for kids in organized sports

Sporting body sent open letter to both Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix

Surrey RCMP are looking for these two men after a bank in the 12800-block of 96th Avenue was robbed on March 12. (Images: Surrey RCMP)
Police release images of two men suspected of robbing Surrey bank

Robbery happened on March 12 at bank in 12800-block of 96th Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed on April 4, according to a statement from police. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police name victim following city’s fourth homicide of 2021

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed Sunday in the Downtown Eastside

Sunset Manor, an assisted living facility in Chilliwack owned by the Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack, pictured here in October 2020, had its third COVID-19 outbreak declared on April 9, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
3rd COVID outbreak at care home run by Chilliwack church known for opposing vaccinations

30-bed Sunset Manor owned and operated by Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning says the players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering and the team still intends to play a 56-game season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks players ‘mostly on the other side’ of COVID outbreak: general manager

The athletes have had a “whole range” of COVID-19 symptoms, said team physician Dr. Jim Bovard, but no one has needed to be hospitalized

Police are investigating after a man was shot Thursday, April 8 while sitting in a car in Vancouver. (Black Press files)
Man shot in Vancouver while sitting in a parked car: police

The victim is currently in critical condition. Police say no arrests have been made.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP is seeking public tips regarding a break-in that left multiple people injured in Vernon Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Cariboo teacher charged in child exploitation case

Charge laid against teacher at Peter Skene Ogden

Most Read