MLB Odds Shorten on Season Cancellation, as Owners and Players Struggle to Compromise

Posted on: June 16, 2020, 12:58h. 

Last updated on: June 17, 2020, 07:28h.

Major League Baseball (MLB) might not play ball this year, and oddsmakers say it’s now nearly even money on the chances of a regularly-scheduled season being held.

odds MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says the league is inching closer to calling off the 2020 season. (Image: Steve Wenig/AP)

Owners and players are struggling to find common ground in reaching new terms to get the regular season underway. Opening Day was scheduled for March 26, but has been postponed by COVID-19.

Over the weekend, the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) rejected the league’s proposal of a 72-game season, with players receiving an 80 percent prorated pay. MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said,  “Further dialogue with the league would be futile,” and instead called on MLB to set a schedule and call back teams.

The problem is, should MLB set a schedule and call back players, but pay them reduced salaries, the union could take the league to court to seek lost wages and damages,” Clark said.

Commissioner Rob Manfred, who just last week said he was “100 percent” certain MLB would be played this year, said Monday that he now has serious doubts.

“It’s just a disaster,” the commissioner told ESPN. “It shouldn’t be happening, and it’s important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans.”

What Are The Odds? 

Oddsmakers are taking wagers on whether the two sides will strike a deal.

Two weeks ago, the odds of a 2020 MLB season occurring were at “Yes -500.” That implies a chance of 83.33 percent. A winning $100 bet on that line nets just $20.

Today, that same line is much reduced at just -165. That implies a chance of 62.26 percent, a winning $100 bet returning $60.61. Bettors can also take the underdog at +125, which would net $125 per $100 risked should the MLB season be canned.

“I’m not confident,” Manfred said of the 2020 season. However, he told the MLBPA in a letter that “The owners are 100 percent committed to getting baseball back on the field.”

Oddsmakers are also offering lines on the number of MLB regular-season games. 51-65 games is favored at -155, followed by 50 games or less (+225), and 66 games or more (+375).

Pay to Play

Owners say they can’t afford to pay players their full salaries on shortened seasons and without fans in the stadiums. Clark says MLB and Manfred are negotiating in bad faith.

Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told players and fans that there would ‘100 percent’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season,” Clark stated.

If the season does happen, FanDuel has the Los Angeles Dodgers as the World Series favorites at +380. The New York Yankees are at +400, Houston Astros +800, Atlanta Braves +1400, and Minnesota Twins rounding out the top five at +1600.