MLB to Start 2021 Season on Time After MLBPA Rejects 154-Game Schedule Proposal

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2021

Arizona Diamondbacks players and coaches, left, stand along with Los Angeles Dodgers players and coaches, right, prior to a the Diamondbacks' opening day baseball game at Chase Field Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Major League Baseball announced Monday night that it intends to start spring training and the 2021 regular season on time after the MLB Players Association rejected a proposal for a revised schedule.

"In light of the MLBPA’s rejection of our proposal, and their refusal to counter our revised offer this afternoon," MLB said in a statement. "We are moving forward and instructing our Clubs to report for an on-time start to Spring Training and the Championship Season, subject to reaching an agreement on health and safety protocols."

Bob Nightengale @BNightengale

Major League Baseball now releases its statement https://t.co/AvO25SOQkq

Earlier in the evening, the MLBPA officially rejected MLB's proposal to delay the start of the 2021 season and shorten the schedule to 154 games.

"Although Players salaries would not be initially prorated to a 154-game regular season, MLB's proposal offers no salary or service time protections in the event of further delays, interruptions or cancellation of the season," the MLBPA said.

MLBPA Communications @MLBPA_News

The Major League Baseball Players Association today released the following statement on Players’ commitment to begin the 2021 season on time: https://t.co/WCYtaeVqmH

As of now, spring training is set to get underway later this month, with Opening Day scheduled for April 1:

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Major League Baseball plans to start on time. Camps scheduled to open Feb. 17. Opening Day scheduled for April 1.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Sunday that MLB's tabled proposal was met with resistance "on multiple fronts." In particular, some players were concerned the deal would "grant commissioner Rob Manfred power beyond what he currently has to cancel games and, accordingly, potentially cut into players' pay."

Players cited how they've begun to increase their offseason workouts in preparation for spring training in mid-February as well. Pushing back the start of the season would require restarting the process all over again.

According to Passan, MLB pointed to health experts in justifying a delay to the start of the upcoming campaign. A later date would allow for longer rollouts of the COVID-19 vaccine, thus allowing regions around home cities to better handle the pandemic.

Along with that disagreement between the two sides, Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown reported some players don't believe playoff expansion will be a net benefit because it lowers the bar for entry and takes some importance away from regular-season results.

This offseason would seemingly provide ammunition for critics of expanding the postseason.

The Chicago Cubs (Yu Darvish), Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) and Cleveland (Francisco Lindor) just traded away star players after having reached the playoffs. The Colorado Rockies also announced Monday they traded Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Monday the MLBPA was likely to reject MLB's proposal "and might not even counter." The union might be amenable to the universal designated hitter or expanded playoffs but consider it too late to change the 2021 schedule.