MLB Owners Approve 2020 Season Plan

We may soon have an idea of what Major League Baseball will look like in 2020. The MLB Owners, along with commissioner Rob Manfred, discussed and approved a plan for the 2020 season on Monday May 11th. This is the first official proposal approved by the commissioner’s office and the owners. It will now be submitted to the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) for approval, which is not likely happen right away. We’ll get to why. 

Here are the main points that have been released:

  1. 82 Game Schedule With Designated Hitter in Both Leagues
  2. No Fans
  3. Geographical Schedules
  4. 14 Team Postseason (Previously 10 Including 2nd Wild Card)
  5. 50/50 Revenue Split For Players and Owners
  6. 30-Man Active Rosters With 20 Player Taxi Squad With No Minor League Season

The idea is to begin with a “spring training” being held throughout the month of June and the season beginning in early July without fans for the foreseeable future. It is not likely there will be spring training games, but rather a preseason camp. It would include current MLB players and minor league players with teams playing scrimmages against their own players. If any ballpark is not available because state or local officials have not approved the resumption of play, according to sources Manfred has told owners that he is prepared to move that team to another city to play home games.

The 82-game regular season will likely be a regional schedule. As it has been explained, teams will play the teams in their division as well as the teams in their counterpart division from the other league. For example, the American League East will play the American League East teams and the National League East teams. Nobody else. That’s kind of strange. Teams playing close to half their games against teams from another league doesn’t seem like the way to get to the playoffs justly, despite the good intention behind limiting travel. It is unclear how many games would be against the true divisional opponents verses the inter-league opponents. Regular season games will be played into October, with the playoffs starting later than normal.

Transitioning into the playoffs, the format the MLB is proposing is something they had toyed with prior to the start of the season. In the wild card round, top teams in each league will get a bye. The other two division winners and top wild card team will host all games in a three-game series. The two division winners playing in the wild card round will choose their opponents. The opponents not selected will play each other. MLB wants this to be done in an NBA draft lottery type production aired live on national television. After the wildcard round, we get into the divisional series as done in the past.

It is estimated with the expanded playoffs the league will earn more money in the playoffs. That will be an important metric in determining the 50/50 revenue split between owners and players, likely to be the biggest hurdle to deal-making between to two parties. 

Despite agreeing to prorated salaries in March, MLB, the owners, will seek additional pay reductions from the Player’s Association to account for the revenue lost from not having fans in the stands. The owner’s proposal of a 50/50 revenue split in 2020 assumes the Player’s Association will figure out how that is pro-rated. MLB is also making it clear this revenue split that has never been done in baseball before, is only for this year. Baseball is the only major team sport in America without a cap on salary. 

Regarding the revenue split, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said, “The league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they’ve failed to achieve in the past, and to anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days, suggests they know exactly how this will be received.” That doesn’t exactly sound like the tone of a union man who will be very happy with the proposed terms. The ability for the MLBPA and the owners to agree on compensation will ultimately be the deciding factor determining if we have baseball in 2020. 

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