Max Scherzer
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Max Scherzer will not pitch in All-Star Game

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Several hours after turning in a terrific, season-best performance against the Royals — a performance during which he not only shut out the competition for seven innings of 11-strikeout ball, but nabbed the second stolen base of his 12-year career in the majors — Nationals ace Max Scherzer announced his decision to sit out of Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

Per a report from Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, Scherzer has been pitching through a bout of back tightness for the last week and need additional rest in the days leading up to his next scheduled start after the All-Star break. So far, it doesn’t appear that his condition has worsened to the point of necessitating a move to the injured list, and Dougherty adds that Scherzer feels confident the issue will clear up in the days to come.

Through Saturday’s 6-0 shutout, the 34-year-old right-hander is 9-5 in 19 starts with a terrific 2.30 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.6 SO/9, and 5.5 fWAR across 129 1/3 innings. His strikeouts (181) and FIP (2.01) are league-best marks through the first half of the 2019 season, and while he may not take the mound for the official All-Star Game later this week, he now has seven consecutive All-Star designations under his belt.

Without Scherzer, the National League All-Star squad will turn to the talented Sonny Gray in his stead. Gray, 29, may not have quite the resume that Scherzer does, but he’s worked hard to improve last year’s totals with a 3.59 ERA, 3.3 BB/9, 10.3 SO/9, and 2.2 fWAR through his first 90 1/3 innings with the Reds in 2019.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: