If you’ve been following our coverage of the MLB/MLBPA’s negotiations for a 2020 season; you know the pair have exchanged offers with a warmth comparable to The Wall from HBO’s Game of Thrones. If you haven’t; then suffice it to say the interactions have been icy at best with a massive barrier of money separating the two sides.
“At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix,” Manfred said in a statement.
“We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents. I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and trust Tony is doing the same.“
The MLBPA later made sure to clarify there isn’t an agreement yet, but the meeting seems to be a much needed step in the right direction.
Under the proposal submitted by MLB, the 60 game season would begin on July 19 with 10 built-in off days. An important note also is the deal agrees to pay players the full value of their salaries on a pro rated basis; something the player’s have fiercely demanded over the course of negotiations.
It also includes an expanded post-season, with 16 teams qualifying for the playoffs as opposed to the usual 10.
MLBPA apparently made some concessions as well, with reports emerging they’d waive their rights to file grievances against the league if they agree to the proposal.
On the Edge of Disaster
To understand just how close a 2020 season come to not happening; we have to go back to March 26.
MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a deal that, among other things, guaranteed a full prorated salary for players once competition returned; and a clause that Manfred could unilaterally institute a season with a length of his choosing.
In the talks since, however, the owner’s have tried to get players to take more pay cuts, saying that without revenue from fans coming to games the clubs will lose lots of money. Many players have taken offense at the idea; especially since they are the ones incurring the majority of the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
As a result the two sides have bickered back and forth, exchanging proposals miles apart. But real outrage from the players sparked after a series of events over the weekend. During the MLB draft, Manfred told ESPN’s Karl Ravech “Unequivocally we are going to play Major League Baseball this year.”
But then, the MLBPA rejected the league’s latest proposal for a season and decided further talks were pointless, and asked Manfred to go ahead and implement whatever season he chose.
That didn’t happen however; with Manfred instead making a 180-degree turn from his earlier statement. In an interview for the “Return of Sports,” special; he infuriated players saying he wasn’t confident a 2020 season could happen without additional dialogue between the two sides.
“The owners are a hundred percent committed to getting baseball back on the field,” Manfred said. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m a hundred percent certain that’s gonna happen.”
This flip-flop did not sit well with the player’s who know Manfred has the ability to start a season and asked him to do just that. Many of the game’s biggest starts took to social media, echoing Clark’s demand to “Tell us when and Where!”
While there is definite bad blood between the MLB and MLBPA, there is yet hope the two can reach a deal and salvage a season.