Report: MLBPA Rejects MLB's Proposal for Universal DH, Expanded Playoffs in 2021

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2020, file photo, baseballs occupy a bucket after use during fielding practice during spring training baseball workouts for pitchers and catchers at Cleveland Indians camp in Avondale, Ariz. Major League Baseball is suspending all political contributions in the wake of last week's invasion of the U.S. Capitol by a mob loyal to President Donald Trump, joining a wave of major corporations rethinking their efforts to lobby Washington. “In light of the unprecedented events last week at the U.S. Capitol, MLB is suspending contributions from its Political Action Committee pending a review of our political contribution policy going forward,” the league said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season was delayed by both the COVID-19 pandemic and disputes between the league and its players association. While it remains to be seen if that will be the case again in 2021, the MLBPA reportedly turned down a proposal from the league.

According to ESPN, the proposal paired a universal designated hitter and an expanded playoff format. 

The union stood firm in its stance that it does not want to trade a universal DH for expanded playoffs and turned down the proposal that included both.

Such a rejection was notable because there was a universal DH and expanded playoff format during the shortened 2020 season that included 60 games for each team.

There were eight teams in the National League and eight teams in the American League that qualified for the playoffs, with the top two teams from each division and two wild-card squads making the field.

The Los Angeles Dodgers emerged from the crowded field as champions after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series.

The ESPN report called the relationship between the union and league "tense" and pointed out the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in December 2021. That means there could be plenty of back-and-forth between the two sides in the coming months, much like there was before the 2020 season.

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In addition to implementing an expanded playoffs and a universal DH and figuring out how many games would be played during that 2020 campaign, the two sides debated on how to split revenue in a shortened season that had no fans in the stands. 

While there is still some uncertainty about when the 2021 season will actually start, Jayson Stark of The Athletic suggested the Arizona Cactus League asking to delay spring training because of the pandemic likely won't lead to the league considering delaying the opening of camps because "the union will likely see this as a veiled attempt to shorten the season and not pay players' full salaries."