Baseball players union rejects proposal to delay 2021 season

Concern of coronavirus variants causing issues during the season is palpable

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred (left) and Tony Clark, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association

By Jeff Passan | ESPN

After the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected a proposal by MLB to delay the start of the season, the league said it would start spring training and the regular season as scheduled.

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A day of brusque, back-and-forth discussions between the league and the union, sources said, wound up as almost everyone involved expected: with no deal to push back the season, and with the Feb. 17 spring training report date and April 1 Opening Day still intact.

MLB on Friday proposed a 154-game schedule that would pay the players for 162 games and pause their arrivals to camp until March 22 and the first games until April 28. The offer included expanding the playoffs from 10 to 14 teams and implementing the designated hitter in the National League. The union immediately balked, citing language in the proposal it believed would grant commissioner Rob Manfred more expansive powers to cancel games in the event of a potential COVID-19 outbreak.

For months, MLB, in discussions with the MLBPA, had broached the possibility of delaying the season. Not until Friday had it agreed to do so with full pay, which the union from the beginning had said was a must for any potential deal. The players were emboldened by the knowledge that the collective bargaining agreement mandates a 162-game season and that they would need to be incentivized to move back the season.

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