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MLB players say teams 'depriving America of baseball games'

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Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2017, file photo, a baseball is shown on the grass at the Cincinnati Reds baseball spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz. Major League Baseball rejected the players' offer for a 114-game regular season in the pandemic-delayed season with no additional salary cuts and told the union it did not plan to make a counterproposal, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday, June 3, 2020, because no statements were authorized. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, FIle)

NEW YORK – Players accused teams of “depriving America of baseball games” as part of a money fight set off by the coronavirus pandemic and raised the possibility baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred might push ahead with a shortened season over the union’s objection.

Bruce Meyer, the union’s chief negotiator, sent a letter to Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem on Friday threatening that an attempt to play without an agreement could lead players to block any attempt to expand the playoffs and deny consent to neutral-site games in the postseason.

“The league’s cynical tactic of depriving America of baseball games in furtherance of their demand for unwarranted salary concessions is shortsighted and troubling,” Meyer wrote. “Meanwhile, other leagues are moving forward with their plans for resumption.”

Meyer’s letter was first reported by The Athletic, and a copy was obtained by The Associated Press.

Major League Baseball made its initial economic proposal on May 26, offering an 82-game regular season schedule and a sliding scale of cuts beyond the prorated shares of salaries the sides agreed to on March 26.

Players responded on Sunday with a 114-game regular season schedule running through October and no additional cuts. Each player would get about 70% of his original salary under the union’s plan and roughly 22-47% under MLB’s proposal, including $200 million tied to the postseason being completed.

“We are disappointed that you are purportedly shutting down negotiations after making one proposal demanding over $800 million in further pay cuts,” Meyer wrote. “We reject your invitation at the end of the letter to negotiate against ourselves. We are similarly chagrined by your decision to carry through on Rob’s threat from last Sunday to intentionally play as few games as possible unless players agree to your demand for pay cuts.”

MLB has proposed expanding the playoffs from 10 teams to 14, which would create at least six new games with broadcast rights to sell. The union offered to agree to a playoff expansion through 2021.