Although no deal has been struck and no official start date for the 2020 season has been set, baseball is inching closer to a return. On Tuesday, the players responded with their latest proposal—an 89-game season that includes full prorated salaries.
According to reports, owners aren’t expected to give this new proposal much consideration, and the MLB Players Association is aware that they’re offering a deal the owners won’t go for.
However, by dropping 25 games from their original proposal of a 114-game season, players are bringing the conversation much closer to a conclusion.
At this stage of negotiations, both sides have a sticking point they’re going to refuse to budge on.
For the owners, that point is season length. Fearful that a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic could wipe away the playoffs—and its sizable revenue projections—Major League Baseball is adamant about ending the regular season by Sept. 27.
“Out of concern for the players’ health, extending the regular season past Sept. 27 won’t happen,” said one MLB source with knowledge of negotiations. “There is a window of playing between 60 (and) 70 regular-season games, but pay still remains an issue.”
The players remain most steadfast in their determination to receive full prorated salaries.
With those two immovable points in focus, baseball’s task is to find the number of games that will satisfy both parties, then let everything else fall into place.
MLB Headed Toward 16-Team Playoff Field
In the wake of the coronavirus, the sports world has been trending toward expanded playoffs. In the NBA, that expansion will take the form of a play-in series. The NHL is set to add an entire round to its playoff structure, including additional teams.
As negotiations progress, Major League Baseball is headed toward an expanded playoff field of its own.
MLB proposed its most recent plan on Monday. That proposal included a 76-game season covering up to 75% of players’ prorated salaries. Also included was the potential to include up to eight teams per league in the postseason.
The latter point appears to be gaining momentum, as the players’ Tuesday proposal would expand the playoffs to include 16 total teams in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
By growing the postseason field and the number of postseason games, baseball should be able to generate additional revenue to be shared between the league and players. The only issue remaining regarding this particular aspect of the schedule is how late the league is willing to push the season’s conclusion.
According to the players’ most recent proposal, the regular season wouldn’t end until Oct. 11. Expect that date to move up into September in the final iteration of baseball’s return-to-play plan.
Will MLB Reach Game Limit for Standing Bets?
Clouded in uncertainty, baseball has generated a unique betting environment in which many of the bets placed to this point could be nullified once the final return-to-play plan is agreed and ratified.
At this point, books like FanDuel Sportsbook are offering futures odds on everything from the American League MVP to the 2020 strikeouts leader. With each bet comes a caveat: “At least 75 games must be played for bets to stand.”
It appears that even sportsbooks could now be preparing for a season shorter than 75 games, as no such caveat is included with a bet on which team will be crowned 2020 World Series Champion.
That race is still led by the Yankees and Dodgers, both of whom own odds of +380. However, if you’ve placed a bet on Gerrit Cole to win the AL Cy Young at +280, you’ll need a 75-game season for the bet to register.