Owners Vote to Hold M.L.B. Season After Players Reject Latest Offer 1

Major League Baseball announced Monday night that it would impose a 2020 schedule on the players after nearly three months of rancorous talks with the union ended without a negotiated settlement.

The league did not specify the length of the schedule but said in a statement that it wanted players to report to their home ballparks by July 1 for training camp. If they do — and if the union signs off on health protocols — the schedule would be for 60 games, most likely starting July 24.

The league and the union exchanged proposals last week, with Commissioner Rob Manfred offering a 60-game schedule, 104 percent of prorated salaries for players and several other elements, including an expanded playoff field and a universal designated hitter. The players overwhelmingly rejected Manfred’s plan in a vote earlier Monday evening.

Manfred said again Monday that he and Tony Clark, the executive director of the players’ union, had developed an “agreement framework” last week, when Manfred flew to Arizona to meet with Clark in person. The union vigorously disputed that characterization, and Manfred framed Monday’s rejection as something of a betrayal.

“Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development,” Manfred said in a statement. “The framework provided an opportunity for M.L.B. and its players to work together to confront the difficulties and challenges presented by the pandemic.”

The union’s rejection, Manfred said, means that many items included in the proposal — expanded playoffs, a universal designated hitter, 104 percent of prorated salaries, $25 million from a playoff pool and $33 million in forgiven salary advances — would not be in place in 2020. There also will be no advertising patches on uniforms, a provision that was also in the proposal.

The owners continually pushed for a shorter schedule because they would lose revenue by staging regular-season games without fans in attendance while the pandemic continues, and players did not budge from their demand for full prorated pay, which many of the owners’ proposals did not include. The players’ last proposal was for 70 games, and the owners would not consider it.

However many games Manfred imposes, the union seems likely to file a grievance seeking substantial payouts to players, on the grounds that the league negotiated in bad faith. The union would have had to drop its right to litigation as a condition of the proposal it rejected on Monday, a concession they viewed as too great, because Manfred was likely to implement a truncated schedule either way.

“The full Board reaffirmed the players’ eagerness to return to work as soon and as safely as possible,” the union said in a statement. “To that end we anticipate finalizing a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols with Major League Baseball in the coming days, and we await word from the league on the resumption of spring training camps and a proposed 2020 schedule.”

Trevor Bauer, the outspoken Cincinnati Reds pitcher, expressed the exasperation felt by some on both sides of the negotiations in a tweet Monday evening, writing, “It’s absolute death for this industry to keep acting as it has been. Both sides. We’re driving the bus straight off a cliff. How is this good for anyone involved?”

The league gave the players a 67-page manual on health and safety provisions last month, and the union has not approved it. Manfred said in his statement Monday that he wanted an answer on those protocols by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

M.L.B. shut down all teams’ spring training complexes over the weekend for extensive cleaning after players on several teams — including five members of the Philadelphia Phillies — tested positive for the coronavirus. Teams would train at their home ballparks instead of their complexes in Florida and Arizona before the season begins.

The backdrop of the negotiations has been a return-to-play agreement negotiated in March that the sides have interpreted in vastly different ways. The players agreed to forgo their salaries until games began in exchange for a full year of service time in the event no season was held.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 22, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


But Manfred expected further salary concessions for a season played without fans in the stands, and the union — long skeptical of owners crying poor — has not budged, wary of setting a precedent that would weaken them in the next collective bargaining agreement.

The players believe the existing C.B.A., which expires in December 2021, is far too favorable to management. Owners seem unlikely to spend lavishly on free agents this off-season, and could try to flood the market by letting go of many players eligible for salary arbitration.

The combined impact of all these factors — the failed negotiations of the last three months, a potentially looming depressed free-agent market, the union’s resolve to gain ground in the next C.B.A., and the mutual distrust between Manfred and the players — makes for an ominous landscape for baseball’s near future.