USA TODAY International Edition

Union likely to reject delayed MLB start

- Bob Nightengal­e

The Major League Baseball Players Associatio­n is expected Monday to reject MLB's proposal to delay the season by a month after having discussion­s among the sub- executive council and player representa­tives, two people with knowledge of the talks told USA TODAY Sports. The people requested anonymity because the negotiatio­ns are ongoing.

The union has not informed MLB of a formal decision or made a counterpro­posal but plan to officially reveal their position Monday.

MLB proposed a 154- game season on Friday in which spring training would start March 22 and opening day on April 28. Players would receive full pay as if they played 162 games and Commission­er Rob Manfred would retain authority to suspend the season for health reasons, according to four people with direct knowledge of the negotiatio­ns who were not authorized to speak publicly.

The proposal also includes a universal DH and an expanded postseason to 14 teams.

The union has steadfastl­y rejected the expanded postseason proposal in talks this winter, believing it would disincenti­vize teams' willingnes­s to spend if it would be easier to qualify for the playoffs. The proposal, with rosters mostly set, would be only for the 2021 season, which the two sides agreed to last season just hours before opening day.

MLB and the union still could agree on an expanded postseason, along with a DH by opening day, but the union still wants a full 162- game season, believing fewer games could damage its position in the next collective bargaining agreement negotiatio­ns, which expires Dec. 1.

The union also maintains that since the players were able to complete a 60game season and expanded postseason last year by following strict protocols, they could play a full season without much interrupti­on.

The union also believes fewer off days in a shortened season would be a safety concern. There also is a concern that pitchers have already begun working out in preparatio­n for spring training starting in three weeks.

It also would delay the minor league season another month.

MLB believes it would be safer for the players to wait a month until the COVID- 19 vaccine is more widely distribute­d and the rate of infection drops. It would also provide more time for teams to allow fans in the stands.

Barring a sudden change in stance by the union, spring training will begin Feb. 17 with pitchers and catchers reporting to camps in Arizona and Florida.

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