Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The 2021 MLB season will start on time after the players union rejected an offer to delay the campaign and play a 154-game schedule, the league said.
MLB announced late Monday that the union rejected its latest offer to start the season on April 29. That proposal also would have paid the players their full 162-game salaries, featured an expanded postseason field and a universal designated hitter for the American League and National League.
"We do not make this decision lightly," the union said in a news release. "Players know first-hand the efforts that were required to complete the abbreviated 2020 season, and we appreciate that significant challenges lie ahead.
"We look forward to promptly finalizing enhanced health and safety protocols that will help players and clubs meet these challenges."
MLB said the season now will start April 1 and spring training will start on Feb. 17, pending agreements between the parties on health and safety protocols. The 30-team league also said it received advice from medical experts before it made its latest proposal.
"A delay of the season would allow for the level of COVID-19 infection rates to decrease and additional time for the distribution of vaccinations, as well as minimizing potential disruptions to the 2021 season that currently face all sports," MLB said in a news release.
Teams were in spring training in mid-March when the pandemic halted sports activities worldwide. The 2020 MLB season then started on July 23, four months after its scheduled start.
"Our 2020 season taught us that when the nation faces crisis, the national game is as important as ever, and there is nothing better than playing ball," MLB said. "We were able to complete a 2020 season through Herculean efforts and sacrifices made by our players, club staff and MLB staff to protect one another.
"We will do so again, together, as we work towards playing another safe and entertaining season in 2021."
The union said MLB's proposal offered "no salary or service time protection" for players in the event of additional delays, interruptions or the potential cancellation of the 2021 season.
Union members received the proposal late last week and reviewed the offer through the weekend and on Monday.
"The clear result of these deliberations is that the players will not accept MLB's proposal, but will continue preparations for a punctual start to the 2021 season and accept MLB's commitment to once again lead their clubs to prepare for a punctual start," the union said.