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MLB memo tells teams to end to organized workouts

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MLB sent a memo to all 30 teams in which the league said that teams should “avoid all actives in which players congregate in significant numbers.” The memo advocated that players, coaches and staffers engage in the social distancing practices advocated by the CDC. Evan Drellich has the memo here:

There’s a lot to unpack here. Non-roster players are being sent home unless travel is too great a risk or they live in a COVID-19 hotspot, or they are receiving medial treatment from the team. The memo also states that players on the 40-man roster must be allowed to stay at the facility if they choose to do so, and that they be given continued spring training allowances.

Yet the most telling nugget may be that the league anticipates that those players will decide to go home as the pandemic unfolds and they are given more information about the dangers of the disease. Indeed, the memo states in the opening paragraphs that future restrictions imposed by the government will likely further impede the sport’s ability to operate.

The moratorium on group activities extends to the teams’ facilities in the Dominican Republic, and some of the athletes at those facilities will be sent home.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will be hosting a conference call at 12:00 ET on Monday to discuss the new further discuss the ongoing crisis. Given the speed at which the pandemic is unfolding, there will likely be new matters to consider by that time.

The end to group activities comes as some players elect to stay in camp and work out, including the entirety of the Yankees’ roster. The instructions also come the same afternoon as the news that a minor leaguer in Yankees camp has tested positive for COVID-19.

If you want to learn more about COVID-19, give the CDC’s site about the virus a read. Informing yourself is the most important step.

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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: