Sources: MLB Owners Could Impose 48-Game Season

(670 The Score) MLB labor negotiations have taken a turn toward the game returning in July with perhaps a 48-game schedule.

After the players proposed a 114-game schedule with full prorated pay Sunday, the owners told the union Monday they will counter-offer with full prorated pay for 48 to 52 games, sources said. 

A key revelation Monday was that commissioner Rob Manfred and the league have the right to start a season of any length as long as the players are paid their full prorated salary, according to sources. The league can do that based on the terms of a return-to-play deal that the sides agreed to in late March, when the league advanced $170 million to players and they negotiated with the hope in mind that fans could still attend games.

The collective bargaining agreement doesn't allow the players to strike or the owners to impose a lockout under the fair labor rules of the deal.

Over a 48-game season at full prorated salaries, the players would be paid $1.206 billion. Under the owners' previous proposal, the players would've netted $1.236 billion for an 82-game season. 

That 82-game slate would've paid players an average of 50% of their already prorated salaries as well as an additional $200 million if an entire postseason was held. That offer can't be enforced by Manfred because it didn't include fully prorated salaries.

The owners have informed the union that players won't receive any postseason money in the new proposal with a much-reduced schedule. Any expanded postseason format or extra playoff games must be collectively bargained by both sides. An expanded playoff schedule could lead to more money for the league and the players.

The owners' new proposal will have the World Series finishing by the end of October.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.