We’ve finally made it to 2021! It’s January so if my astronomical calculations are correct, next month is February and that means spring training and the beginning of a new and normal baseball season.
Or does it?
With spring training traditionally set to begin next month, there’s still a lot that needs to be sorted out by the league. Back on December 15th, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that many MLB executives and owners would like to delay the start of the spring training and the season in order to get players vaccinated. This delay would most likely result in a shorter than usual season depending on when the league could get its hands on the vaccine. It would also mean an additional revenue hit to both individual teams and the league as a whole, perhaps leading to another request for the players to take a pay cut.
The players association on the other hand would like to begin the season as scheduled, according to Nightengale. They believe it was proven last year that they can safely play and earn their full salaries.
Any change to the structure of the season would need to be approved by both the players and owners. As it’s been well reported, the two sides haven’t exactly been on the best terms.
The players and owners spent all of last summer going back and forth on the nature surrounding their first agreement of prorated salaries last March. Things didn’t end well, if you remember, and the two sides never actually agreed to anything. Instead, with time running out, Commissioner Rob Manfred was left to impose a shortened 60-game season.
The key word there was “impose.” Manfred gained this right in the original March agreement but saved it for a last resort because imposing a season was a surefire way of getting a grievance filed against the league.
Now in 2021, Manfred no longer has this power anymore unless both sides give him this right before entering another round of discussions for the 2021 season if needed.
But as both sides enter the final year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires Dec. 1, it’s unclear how feasible an agreement on any issue can be. The two sides have still yet to agree on a possible universal DH or expanded playoffs for the 2021 season. With that still not done, how can fans feel optimistic that everyone will come to an understanding about the 2021 season?
So yes, we’ve made it to 2021 but there’s still a lot that 2020 left behind to be cleaned up. The work for the upcoming season has been ongoing but the clock is ticking for the league to officially decide its approach. Will it wait for a vaccine and ask players to take a pay cut? Or will it go on as originally planned with improved protocols? We’ll have to wait and see, but I would expect the talks to intensify as we near spring training and for both sides to make their stances public just as they did last year.
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ESPN’s Buster Onley makes the case for why the Rockies should pull the trigger on a Trevor Story trade. He compares the situation to that of Francisco Lindor’s who is expected to be traded.
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