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The Consequences of No MLB Season in 2020

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFP

Did MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Get Caught in a Bluff? Manfred is now “not confident” that there will be an MLB season in 2020. To the players and fans, his words feel like a bluff after saying he was certain there would be MLB games this season less than a week ago. The consequences of no season would be brutal, and more brutal than you might think.

Just under a week ago, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred assured baseball fans that MLB would be played in the year 2020 regardless of negotiation failures.

Manfred backtracked that statement yesterday saying that he wasn’t feeling confident that the MLB would play after all.

Through the players’ side of things, Cincinnati starting pitcher, Trevor Bauer went on a huge rant on Twitter suggesting that he knew Manfred’s bluff.

“So, Rob (Manfred), explain to us how you can be 100% sure that there’s going to be baseball but not confident there will be baseball at the same time? hmmm. What changed between those statements?

Players told you to set the season, but it’s too early to set the season right now, isn’t it Rob (Manfred)? Because then you’d have to explain why you’re only going to impose 50 games when we could easily play 70+ right now.

The tactic is to bluff with “no season” again and delay another 2-3 weeks until you clear the risk of ‘not negotiating in good faith by trying to play as many games as possible’. The public backlash combined with (the) potential of having to explain yourself in front of an arbitrator isn’t too appealing, is it?

Let’s see…the way I have it figured you want to play between 50 and 60 games. Can’t make it 50 cuz that would be too obvious to everyone what you were trying to do. And no one would think that was a ‘representative season’ so you’d risk not getting your precious playoff money.

Nope, can’t have that. So gotta make it more than that. But not too many…you’ve gone as high as about 55 games full prorated salary, so you’ll probably settle somewhere around there, potentially a couple games higher than that to throw people off the scent, isn’t that right, Rob (Manfred)? So in that scenario, let’s see, Sept. 27 end date to protect playoff tv schedules, 60 ish games, going to have to be at least 4 off days in there…so that’s 64 days.

Plus about 20 for spring training…84 days. Sept 27-84 days is July 5. Plus about a week to get players to spring training. So tack on another 7, that takes us to June 28. As I have it figured, that’s your deadline. But today is June 15, so how do you delay another 13 days?

Guess we all got that answer today. Threaten to cancel the season. Threaten arbitration. Threaten grievances. All the while, hold the fans for ransom. Hold the future of the game for ransom. No one believes your bluff, bud.

You’re holding a losing hand. Unfortunately, it’s a losing hand for everyone involved, not just you. There’s some saying out there about not killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Check it out on the ole google machine. It’s worth knowing.”

Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

Trevor Bauer is suggesting that Rob Manfred and the owners are delaying negotiations so that they can mandate a 50-game season. The owners would be saving more money with fewer games being played this season. Therefore, Manfred is basically doing whatever he can to wait to play baseball until July to finish the full playoff season at the end of September.

While the players continue to assure the owners that all they need to do is tell them when and where, the owners are too afraid to lose money on the season.

It’s fair but it’s also unfair when you look at the negotiations as a whole. The owners aren’t willing to negotiate and the players aren’t going to agree to the same deal layed out in a different way.

The consequences of no season have already limited the MLB draft to just five rounds. The rest of the players in the draft will need to be signed to a minimum salary as undrafted free agents. The draft was cut from 40 rounds to five rounds. That’s a ridiculous amount of undrafted prospects.

The MLB always raves about players that become stars who were drafted late in the MLB draft. It’s unfortunate that this is happening. The MLB as a whole already cut nearly 1,000 minor leaguers from their system to save some money due to the pandemic.

Then there are players like Mookie Betts, who was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers with one year left on his contract. The Dodgers sent Alex Verdugo and a couple of other prospects for Betts but now Betts might never play a single inning for the Dodgers if there’s no season.

Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Norm Hall/Getty Images/AFP

That would look like a brutal trade for the Dodgers if they’re unable to retain Betts.

Trevor Bauer is also going to be a free agent and a likely hot commodity for MLB teams. It’ll be interesting to see which owners will agree to allow him on their team after he has bashed them time and time again.

I’m not saying Bauer is wrong for what he’s saying. I’m just saying that the owners might take it a bit personally. Usually players on their final year of their contract will look to a big final season to get a huge payday. With no season, free agents likely won’t get paid what they’re worth in the market.

Players who got extensions last season are the biggest winners throughout this pandemic. There weren’t too many players who got an extension before the pandemic hit. The notable names with an extension this season before the pandemic include Andrew Benintendi, Max Muncy, Yoan Moncada, Miguel Sano.

I personally believe there will be MLB in July. Trevor Bauer’s rant makes so much sense. Commissioner Manfred is bluffing and it shows. But there’s nothing the players can do but wait to play the game they love.

There would be plenty of consequences if there was no MLB this season. The consequences go beyond money. It’s about losing fans. Losing the prime of careers like Jacob deGrom and Mike Trout. These guys are on their way to the history books. A lost season would be a disaster.