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Potential 2021 Season Taking Shape

Owners propose 154 games and a May 1 start

MLB: AUG 25 Pirates at White Sox

As players are packing their bags to head to Arizona and Florida, the major league owners have sent a plan to the MLBPA that outlines a proposed 2021 season:

  • 154 games (but full, 162-game pay for players)
  • Opening Day (and presumably, spring training) delayed a month
  • Season’s end pushed back a week
  • Expanded playoffs, in the 2020 format

The players are said to be considering the offer. One of the main sticking points for the MLBPA heading into 2021 was getting full pay, whether or not 162 games are played. Given last year’s agreement (to prorate salaries based to the 60-game season) and the likelihood that a full (or close to full) season would be played, full pay was not negotiable from the players’ standpoint. Credit the owners, this proposal gives that to them.

Now, the players are not tickled by expanded postseason, primarily because they do not share in the additional revenue it generates. But it seems a reasonable give if ownership is guaranteeing full pay — significant insurance if the pandemic worsens and the season is truncated or cancelled.

(We’ve only seen tweets that bullet-point the offer, so owners could well be attaching riders to the offer that indicate again that pay would be prorated if the season is significantly shortened. For now, let’s take it at face value.)

Previously, the Cactus League had advised a delay to spring training given the pandemic raging in Arizona. Though Florida seemingly would never admit it, both states aren’t the safest place for thousands of players and team personnel to be congregating right now.

A delay, a compressed season, and full salaries for players check a lot of boxes for a successful 2021.