After spending days digesting the initial return-to-play proposal by Major League Baseball owners, the MLBPA countered last night as the two sides embark on a pivotal week for the game’s future.

According to multiple reports, the latest proposal includes the primary points:

  • A 114-game season ending on Oct. 31
  • Player safety opt outs over Coronavirus concerns
  • Salary deferrals totaling $100 million in the event postseason play is canceled
  • A $100 million salary advance to be disbursed among players during a second spring training

Other details of the players’ offer include an expanded 14-team postseason in both 2020 and 2021 as well as a willingness to wear mics and participate in other revenue generating events.

Great. So where does the latest news leave the two sides as this public pissing match moves forward?

An expanded 114-game season feels unrealistic. While the MLBPA wants more games to increase prorated earnings, the addition of 30-plus games is a logistical headache, one that also assumes unnecessary risk to both player safety and the season’s completion.

Not only do extra games increase the amount of potential exposure, but it raises the probability that a second wave could derail the season prior to its conclusion. Theoretically, more games would produce greater television revenue, but ownership groups are probably more concerned with the increased likelihood of a disaster scenario that sees postseason play canceled.

Player opt outs that still guarantee salary and/or a year of service time as well as deferrals and advancements could be part of an agreement.

As noted above, reports also indicate the players’ willingness to wear field mics in an effort to enhance television broadcasts. While that’s a nice touch that is sure to add a more personalized feel to a product in desperate need of one, it’s unlikely this part of the offer moves the needle in any meaningful fashion.

The primary takeaway here is that the collective inclusion of these points are what amount to good faith acknowledgements by the players that there exists the possibility for immediate cash flow concerns. While the word “concession” feels strong, such acknowledgements often serve as openings at the negotiating table.

Ultimately, while absolutely nobody will feel good about it, I’ll echo what I wrote last week. From this perspective, it still seems more likely than not that each side reluctantly drags one another across the finish line at some point over the next 7-10 days.