Relations between MLB and the players' association became more strained Friday when MLBPA chief negotiator Bruce Meyer sent a letter to the league in which he blasted the league's negotiating tactics.
"We are disappointed that you are purportedly shutting down negotiations after making one proposal demanding over $800 million in further pay cuts," Meyer wrote, according to Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal. "We reject your invitation at the end of the letter to negotiate against ourselves."
Meyer said MLB has used "cynical tactic(s) of depriving America of baseball games," according to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic. He also criticized deputy commissioner Dan Halem, who outlined the league's position in a letter sent to the union earlier this week.
"We are happy to hear that 'the Commissioner is committed to playing Baseball in 2020,' since MLB's course of conduct continues to lead to doubts," Meyer wrote while referencing Halem's words, according to Rosenthal and Drellich.
Halem told the union that 27 of the league's 30 teams will post financial losses if players don't take more pay cuts. The MLBPA received some documentation of the claim but is asking the league for more proof, according to Rosenthal and Drellich.
Owners and players are now reportedly focused on playing a 48-game season in 2020, but financial issues have halted progress on both sides, and negotiations are at a standstill. Players are holding firm in their request to be paid a prorated portion of their salaries, while the league continues to push for additional cuts - something the MLBPA "resoundingly" rejected on Thursday.
The league doesn't want the 2020 season to extend into November, regardless of when it begins. Halem said that pushing the season late into the year would pose a "significant health risk," and he added that the failure to restart spring training in early June - the sides had set a deadline of June 1 with the hope of resuming camps 10 days later - makes it impossible to hold a season of 82 games or longer.
Commissioner Rob Manfred can unilaterally implement a shorter season. Halem informed the union that Manfred "has started discussions with ownership about staging a shorter season without fans."
"Assuming that those discussions go well, we will notify you at the appropriate time of our intentions," he added.
The current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season.