Astros: Season in peril as league will not make new offer

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 10: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the 2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings on December 10, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 10: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the 2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings on December 10, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Houston Astros fans are holding their breath as MLB will not counter the players’ most recent offer.

If there was any progress made in the last week between MLB and the Players Union, it appears to have evaporated now. The latest reports note the league rejected the players’ most recent proposal and has no plans to make a counteroffer, which puts a potential season from our Houston Astros in jeopardy.

The league initially proposed an 82-game season with a sliding scale of salary cuts for players on top of their prorated salaries. The players countered with an offer for a 114-game season and full prorated salaries with the possibility of some deferrals if the postseason were to be canceled.

The fact that the league is not making a counteroffer is concerning. Negotiation requires offers going back and forth, and the players’ inclusion of deferrals in their offer was a good sign. But for whatever reason, MLB seems to feel like it’s not going to get anywhere, possibly due to the players’ request for a longer season.

It’s understandable that the players want more games since that will mean more money for them. The league wants fewer games because the teams believe they’ll be losing money while playing in empty stadiums, and many are fearful of a second wave of COVID-19 coming in the fall. Teams want to complete the postseason before then so they can reap the rewards of much-needed postseason television revenue.

Where We Go From Here

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MLB apparently believes it can simply institute a shorter schedule once good faith negotiations have taken place. The league is mulling a 50-game slate in which players get their full prorated salaries. This might not be an ideal scenario, but if the league isn’t making a counteroffer, then perhaps that’s the way it will go.

The players won’t be happy with that, so there remains a question as to what will happen if MLB makes such a decision. Would the players strike? Would several players opt out of playing? There are a number of undesirable possibilities here.

It’s also possible the league won’t do anything further and there won’t be a season. Maybe they think there’s just no common ground that doesn’t involve teams losing money. The players are insisting on a longer schedule, which would have the postseason played in November. The owners simply won’t go for that.

What this means for us Astros fans remains to be seen, but we’ve already looked at what we’d miss out on if there’s no 2020 season. It seems like both sides have incentive to have some kind of season, but how this will all shake out is really difficult to determine at this point.

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In the end, we hope there will be some semblance of a baseball season. If the league and players can’t come to an agreement, it could severely damage the sport’s image and popularity at one of the most crucial times in its history.

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