Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis sounded off on the negotiations between MLB and the players union for a 2020 season in an interview with ESPN 1000’s “Waddle & Silvy" on Tuesday.
Kipnis expressed confidence baseball’s return is around the corner while agreeing with the notion MLB and the union are too far apart to come to an agreement.
The 33-year-old noted MLB’s season was postponed due to the coronavirus right as it was set to begin, putting baseball in a tougher position than other leagues trying to finish their seasons (NBA, NHL) or have several months before they kickoff (NFL).
“We were kinda launched right into the middle of everything and put into a tough space,” Kipnis said, “so unfortunately, it just doesn’t sound like we’re gonna come to an agreement because the sides are too far apart.
“That being said, I know [MLB commissioner Rob Manfred] has the ability to start a season regardless, whether it’s like 48-50 games or something like that. I don’t see him passing up that opportunity. I think we will have baseball this year, regardless of whether we come to an agreement or not … . But it’s almost like it’s out of our hands at this point.”
Fans have grown impatient as negotiations between the two sides — millionaires vs. billionaires — have gone public during a global pandemic that has left millions unemployed. The players remain firm in their desire for full prorated salaries this season, but their latest proposal delivered Tuesday (89-game schedule, full prorated salaries) is expected to be rejected by the owners.
Kipnis explained the players’ stance and how they're trying to leave the game in a good place for future generations.
“All of us would love to play; every player’s ready to play this year, but we have a duty now as a union and as a player to leave the game in a better shape," he said. "And if we take concessions now, if you give them an inch, they’re gonna take a mile with these owners sometimes.
“That being said, the owners are definitely business guys, so they have their stance on things, too, and you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think obviously the money makes the world go around in this situation.”
Kipnis said the union can’t rule out not playing but it’s something they don't want to do. However, he said they realize the owners want to portray them as the bad guys as the season continues to be postponed.
“It’s turning into a he said-he said kind of argument where it feels like they almost make a proposal just so they can be the last ones to say, ‘Oh, we’re trying. We made the last proposal and if the game doesn’t start back up it’s on the players because we offered the last one,’” he said. “It’s just not the way it works.
“This shouldn’t be a public matter at all; that was their intention, of trying to get the public on their side to make it look like the players are the ones holding it up. The players have been waiting to play this whole time.
"As someone who has played for a long time, loves the game and is considered old in this game at 33 years old — you don't know how many years you’ve got left — I’d love to get between those white lines and play this game right now. But I also understand the bigger picture, that I’m part of a greater cause in this union and have to stand for what we believe in."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.