Written by Chris Kubala
The major league baseball season continues to hang in the balance after the most recent round of proposals fell by the wayside last weekend. At that point, the MLBPA had stated that they were finished trying to negotiate and challenged commissioner Rob Manfred to come up with a schedule and tell the players where and when to show up. That led Manfred to step back from his previous statements about how he “100 percent guaranteed” that there would be a baseball season in 2020.
Of course, lost in all the bluster and rhetoric from both the owners and the players is the fact that eventually, for the good of the game and its fan base, a deal has to be hammered out. With the collective bargaining agreement coming up in 2021, if a deal doesn’t get done, things will continue to get worse on both sides. As it stands, it appears that the talk of walking away from the negotiating table by the players was little more than empty words.
On Wednesday, following a meeting between Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, the owners regrouped. The end result was the owners sending a new 60-game proposal that is expected to include full, pro-rated salaries and an expanded playoff field. According to sources close to the situation, the schedule would begin somewhere around July 19 should this offer be accepted. As part of the deal, the players would agree to the expansion of the playoff field from 10 to 16 teams and also would waive their right to file a grievance regarding the deal that they made with the owners back in March.
According to Jeff Passan, it’s likely that this deal won’t necessarily get it done. He expects the players to counter with a proposal for more games in an effort to try and maximize their financial returns from playing this season. The thought process there is that the players will counter with a number of their own and somewhere between those two numbers will be the length of the season. As it stands, the thought process is that it is going to take more than 60 games in order to get this done.
While it is important to note that no deal has been struck at this point in time, it’s clearly the furthest step in the right direction that we have seen take place between the two sides given the strife and discord that we’ve seen over the past few weeks. The fact that the two sides actually had a sit-down conversation that Manfred described as positive is something that one wouldn’t have expected given how badly things had gone in recent weeks. Throw in that the owners actually moved slightly in giving pro-rated salaries for 60 games, which surpasses their previous high mark of 50, and there has been some ground gained on that front.
We’ll keep watching intently to see how things unfold in the negotiations and the hopes that action returns to the diamond in the near future.