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MLBPA: We will not take a second reduction in pay

Baseball might return, but right now it’s going to take a lot of work between the owners and players.

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Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association Tony Clark answering questions about the sign stealing scandal before a spring training workout on February 19, 2020 at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Photo by Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty Images

The 2020 Major League Baseball season is in serious jeopardy as the owners and players are at a standstill after multiple weeks of economic negotiations. The owners said on Wednesday they were rejecting the players’ recent proposal for more games, expanded playoffs, and a willingness to defer salary if the playoffs were canceled by a second wave of Covid-19. The players are forcefully responding to this rejection.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark issued a statement Thursday evening in which he criticized the owners rejection.

“In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

“Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

“This threat came in response to an association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.”

Pitcher Andrew Miller, a member of the executive subcommittee, said players are engaged like never before, according to The Athletic. Agents have told Ken Rosenthal the owners’ actions have “push[ed] some moderates further toward the hardliners’ camp.”

The league has been willing to agree to proration of salary, but only if the players agree to a drastically shortened season. While technically the owners are agreeing on proration, the shortened season means it’s not really a concession by the owners.

This does not bode well for getting the baseball season started. A 50-game season like the owners might be pushing for could still happen, but the players are clearly not pleased with the latest developments. This will be a rough going if we don’t see some movement soon.