MLB commissioner Rob Manfred guaranteed there will be a 2020 season in an interview with MLB Network on Wednesday.
However, he did not guarantee it would be by virtue of an agreement between the league and player's union.
"We're going to play baseball in 2020. 100 percent," Manfred said. "If it has to be under the March 26 agreement, if we get to that point in the calendar, so be it. But, one way or the other, we're playing major-league baseball."
Manfred's declaration is a sign of where negotiations stand between the league and players. The two sides have been haggling over financial terms the last few weeks, as the players seek to be paid full prorated salaries — per a March agreement with the owners.
The owners have contested that agreement allowed negotiations to be reopened if the season ultimately were to be played without fans. That is now the case, and the owners want the players to share some of the burden from expected revenue losses.
That March agreement also allows Manfred to unilaterally mandate a shortened season in the range of 48-52 games where players receive their full prorated salaries, hence Wednesday's declaration. However, he hopes to avoid that mandate.
"I remain committed to the idea that the best thing for our sport is to reach a negotiated agreement with the MLBPA that plays as many games as possible for our fans," he said. "We do have rights under the March 26 agreement and there could come a point in time where we exercise those rights."
Tuesday, the union proposed an 89-game season that would end Oct. 11 with expanded postseason play into November. Manfred said the league will soon make a counterproposal "that once again moves in the players' direction in terms of the salary issue."
The commissioner added he hopes the players will come off their desire for 100 percent prorated salaries. He noted MLB won't play into November due to fears over a second coronavirus wave and promises made to MLB's TV partners for October playoff games.
Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis went as far to say Tuesday "it just doesn’t sound like we’re gonna come to an agreement because the sides are too far apart." He even said the players can't rule out not playing this season.
"It pains me to say that just because in bargaining times and stuff like this, you never can rule it out,” Kipnis said on ESPN 1000. “If it comes to the point where we need to put our foot down and stand for what we believe in, it’s something we would have to do. But I don’t think anybody wants that.
“I think every single player knows how good they have it and knows how much they love the game and love playing the game, so we are trying desperately to not let it get to that point. We just can’t seem to find this middle ground right now.”Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.