Major League Baseball owners are close to finalizing a proposal for starting the season and will present to the players next week, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The league owners will speak on Monday, and if there is approval, the plan will be presented to the MLBPA on Tuesday.
The plan would have the season start in early July, and teams would play somewhere between 78 and 82 games. There would be a regionalized schedule with teams in a division facing each other and teams in the same geographic division in the opposite league. That means, AL East and NL East teams would face off, AL Central and NL Central teams would face off, and likewise with AL West and NL West teams.
The postseason plan would have an expanded playoff of seven teams per league The team with the best record in each league would get a bye to the Division Series, leaving the other two division winners and four wild card teams squaring off in best-of-three wild card matchups.
There’s talk of opening as many home parks as possible, but there are still some issues to sort out within each state and with Toronto for the Blue Jays. Nonessential travel between the US and Canada is restricted and there is a 14-day quarantine requirement. Plenty could change between now and July, but that is going to be a big deal.
The same holds true with numerous states. With teams all across the country, each is dealing with different state rules pertaining to social distancing and how open businesses can be. That will impact however spring training 2.0 works out, whether it be in Arizona and Florida or at the home parks of each team.
There is a lot to figure out in that regard, but another big issue is player salaries. Games are expected to be played without fans in the beginning, and the length of that is uncertain for the time being. Players already agreed in March to prorate their salaries for a shortened season, but owners are expected to push for a further reduction in pay.
Rosenthal is reporting this would likely involve an agreement to a set percentage of revenues for this season. That is a big ask and is far from a fait accompli. If the players ask to see proof of the financial issues, it’s uncertain if the owners would be willing to provide that information. It would lead to plenty more friction than already exists between the two sides.