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Kenley Jansen: “Maybe we have to go on strike”

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Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen had a candid moment during Saturday’s FanFest at Dodger Stadium. According to a report from Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Jansen broached the idea of a players’ strike, telling the crowd, “Maybe we have to go on strike, to be honest with you.” His full comments are below:

That is something we might have to address, so you don’t have a lot of Miami Marlins doing this. Maybe it’s an adjustment for us, as the players’ union. Maybe we have to go on strike, to be honest with you. That’s how I feel about it. Maybe I could say that, for me, maybe we should go on strike and fix that. Maybe not. I think it’s a thing we maybe address that to the union. I’m not going to say that to you guys. I’m going to have that talk to the union, and we’ll see how it goes from there.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of players’ dissatisfaction with the excruciatingly slow pace of the offseason. The exact culprit remains unclear, though everything from teams gutting their rosters for drastic rebuilds to outright collusion has been hinted at, with no clear evidence to support the latter. On Thursday, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan mentioned that several free agents were considering staging their own spring training camp this year, assuming the market continues to stall over the next two months. This appears to be the first time a player has spoken openly about the possibility of a strike, however, which puts a decidedly more serious spin on recent events.

Jansen was quick to walk back the comments, saying it was something he should first discuss with the union, but it’s not hard to believe that others might be feeling the same way — especially those who fall within the pool of MLB’s 100+ unsigned free agents. Shaikin speculates that any potential strike would likely be delayed for three years, as the current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in 2021. While there’s still hope that the stalemate will be broken in advance of spring training — in a way that’s fair to the players, that is — the longer it drags on, the more desperate reactions it’s going to elicit from players and teams alike.

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.