Astros: MLBPA rejects MLB offer, mandated season coming

FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Tony Clark of the Major League Baseball Players Association speaks during a Boston Red Sox team workout on February 21, 2017 at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida . (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Tony Clark of the Major League Baseball Players Association speaks during a Boston Red Sox team workout on February 21, 2017 at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida . (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

The MLBPA has rejected MLB’s final offer as Houston Astros fans await word on a mandated season.

Being a Houston Astros fan has been tough sledding the past few months, and the circumstances surrounding the sport haven’t made that any easier. After weeks of petulant back and forth, the MLBPA formally rejected MLB’s latest offer for a potential 2020 season.

After a face-to-face meeting between MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA director Tony Clark last week, the league made a final proposal of a 60-game season with players getting their full prorated salaries. The proposal called for an expanded postseason, a universal DH in both 2020 and 2021, and a guarantee of $25 million in playoff pools in 2020.

The players countered with a 70-game proposal, but the league wouldn’t entertain it. So on Monday, the MLBPA executive board, which is made up of an eight-member subcommittee and 30 player representatives, voted 33-5 to reject MLB’s 60-game offer. In spite of that, it looks like we’ll still have a season.

MLB has announced its clubs have unanimously voted to institute a season without many of the provisions contained in its last offer. Though it has not announced the length of said season, Ken Rosenthal is reporting it will be for 60 games. The March agreement between MLB and the MLBPA gives Manfred this power, and the players are seemingly inviting him to do so. In all likelihood, the regular season will end by Sept. 27, with the postseason following.

The statement released by MLB asked the union to clarify if the players are able to report to Spring Training Part II by July 1, and whether they agree on the Operating Manual’s health and safety protocols. They’ve requested an answer by 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, so we could know as soon as Wednesday when the season will start and further details about it.

How We Got Here

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If Manfred can simply implement a 60-game season on his own, why would the players reject the offer? One would think they would prefer the universal DH, as it would give aging position players more opportunities. An expanded postseason would seemingly benefit the players as well if they’re getting a cut of the revenue.

It all comes down to the right to file a grievance. In MLB’s proposal, the players would’ve waived this right. They still get paid their prorated salaries regardless, but to them, they’d rather just let Manfred mandate a season, and then they could turn around and file a grievance. Is that really worth it?

In the end, probably not. A grievance would take a great deal of time to work its way through court, and I fail to see how the players would stand to gain anything substantive from it. I think many people would agree that, at least for a while, Manfred didn’t negotiate in good faith, but the players were seemingly too upset about that to see the big picture.

Dragging this fight out is only going to make things tougher when the current labor agreement expires in Dec. 2021. With a grievance out there and all the bad blood that exists between the two sides, a lockout is a distinct possibility. Instead of hammering out a deal now and taking some semblance of a step to bury the hatchet, the two sides are setting themselves up for another bitter fight that’s sure to anger the fans.

The players choosing to reject an expanded postseason and the universal DH just so they can file a grievance is on them. Manfred certainly takes the lion’s share of the blame when you look at this whole despicable saga from the beginning, but the players aren’t blameless here either. It’s just a shame we have politicians leading these groups instead of statesmen.

Astros Baseball?

At the very least, we should still see the Astros take the field this year, which is important. The team is still built to win a championship, but it won’t stay that way forever. They could lose some key players to free agency this winter, including George Springer, Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel.

With the money issue no longer the elephant in the room, what will bear monitoring is the COVID-19 situation. MLB and the MLBPA will still have to agree to safety and testing protocols in order for any season to take place, so we’ll have to see if they can even manage to do that.

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If so, then perhaps the Astros will have a chance to erase the painful memories of how the 2019 season ended and move beyond the cloud of the sign stealing scandal. But I wouldn’t put it past the league and the players to screw this thing up even further.