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Odds 2020 MLB Season Is Canceled Adjusted to +300 … and Getting Shorter

Wide shot of an empty Fenway Park in Boston, CO
Fenway Park in Boston would not be a welcoming environment if the MLB season stretched into the winter months. Photo by Jeramey Jannene (Twitter).
  • Owners sent a new financial proposal to the MLBPA this week which involved massive pay cuts for the players
  • The MLBPA is not likely to agree to it
  • With the owners and players at odds on how to proceed with a shortened MLB season, the odds of no season taking place are getting shorter

Yesterday, one prominent online sportsbook posted new odds on the 2020 MLB season being canceled in its entirety. The pessimistic prop was spurred by recent tumult between the league and the MLBPA.

On Tuesday, the league sent a financial proposal for a shortened season to the Players Association. It involved massive pay cuts for the players, and it was greeted like Trevor Bauer walking into the Houston Astros clubhouse, which is to say, not well.

When the prop opened on May 28, the odds heavily favored the 2020 season taking place in some capacity.

Odds 2020 MLB Season Is Canceled

Will there be a 2020 MLB season? Odds
Yes -500
No +300

Odds as of May 28.

However, a few hours later, something unexpected had happened. The site stopped taking bets on the “No” side. On Friday morning, “No” is still off the board and “Yes” has shortened to -400.

There’s usually only one reason sportsbooks adjust lines in this fashion: money is pouring in on one side. In this case, it appears that sharps hammered “No”.

Why Are Sharps Betting on No Season?

The latest financial proposal from the MLB to the MLBPA has dampened hopes that the 2020 season will start anytime soon, if at all. The Players Association was extremely disappointed with the pay cuts it entailed.

Super-agent Scott Boras urged the MLBPA to reject the proposal, advising the players to hold fast to the agreement reached in March regarding prorated salaries in a shortened MLB season.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan wrote on Friday morning that, “The [MLBPA] expects to counter MLB’s economic proposal by the end of this week with a plan that includes more than 100 games and a guarantee of full prorated salaries for the 2020 season.”

The takeaway for bettors is that, while the league and Players Association appeared to be on the same page a couple months ago, they have drifted apart since. The owners are now asking for greater concessions to help their bottom line, and the players are not (at least initially) willing to be flexible.

Don’t Bet On “Yes”

The chances of the 2020 MLB season taking place are still greater than it not taking place, according to most reports. That said, the current odds on offer only allow bettors to wager on “Yes” at -400. In order for that bet to have positive expected value, there needs to be at least an 80.1% chance of it paying out.

Based on where the league and MLBPA are at this juncture, 80% appears entirely too high. One of the most important details, player salaries, has to be renegotiated, and there are myriad other elements – like the length of the season and player-safety protocols – that still need to be agreed upon. It’s almost June and the “boys of summer” are not easily transplanted to winter.

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