Tony Clark

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred: 'We weren’t going to play more than 60 games'

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred: 'We weren’t going to play more than 60 games'

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made an interesting revelation Wednesday about negotiations between MLB and the players union. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Manfred said the 2020 season was never going to be more than 60 games given the spread of the coronavirus — at least by the time they got to serious negotiations two weeks ago.

“The reality is we weren’t going to play more than 60 games, no matter how the negotiation with the players went, or any other factor," Manfred said on The Dan Patrick Show. "Sixty games is outside the envelope given the realities of the virus. I think this is the one thing that we come back to every single day: We’re trying to manage something that has proven to be unpredictable and unmanageable.

"I know it hasn’t looked particularly pretty in spots, but having said that, if we can pull off this 60-game season, I think it was the best we were gonna do for our fans given the course of the virus."

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Manfred unilaterally imposed a 60-game season after the two sides couldn't come to terms. The union rejected the owners' final proposal, retaining the right to file a grievance against the owners for not negotiating in good faith.

Whether Manfred's comments become a point of contention in any grievance the players might file is unclear. The league would likely argue Manfred was referring to negotiations after his face-to-face meeting with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on June 16. Manfred's comments to Patrick's follow up question — if the league would have been willing to go to 80 games, had the players agreed to all their terms — also points to this.

"It’s the calendar, Dan. We’re playing 60 games in 63 days. I don’t see — given the reality of the health situation over the past few weeks — how we were gonna get going any faster than the calendar we’re on right now, no matter what the state of those negotiations were.

"Look, we did get a sub-optimal result from the negotiation in some ways. The fans aren’t gonna get an expanded postseason, which I think would have been good with the shortened season. The players left real money on the table. But that’s what happens when you have a negotiation that instead of being collaborative, gets into sort of a conflict situation.”

The players' final proposal called for a 70-game season. At this point in the calendar, 60 games in 69 days (Sept. 27 is the reported end date for the regular season) leaves room for a couple more games, not 70 (or more).

So, Manfred's right that 60 games on the current timetable was probably the most MLB can fit in amid the pandemic. But you have to wonder if the union will use those comments in a potential grievance. 

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MLB willing to modify proposal to reach agreement with MLB players union

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USA TODAY

MLB willing to modify proposal to reach agreement with MLB players union

The MLB and players union appear to have reached the point where both sides must decide whether they want to schedule a 2020 season.

After news this week of players and/or staff from seven teams testing positive for the coronavirus, MLB is willing to modify its proposal for a 60-game season to reach an agreement with the union, according to multiple reports.

With the possibility of the 2020 season being canceled (even with an agreement) due to the virus, the players are worried about conceding too much in negotiations ahead of 2021, the final year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Commissioner Rob Manfred sent a letter to union executive director Tony Clark on Sunday offering to cancel the plan to expand postseason play and add a universal DH in 2021 — if a ‘full’ 2020 season isn’t played.

The MLBPA canceled its Sunday plan to vote on the league’s proposal, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported the modified version could be submitted on Monday.

The players union recently countered the 60-game plan for full prorated pay with 70 games, which the league rejected. That leaves the union with the option to accept the 60-game offer, modified or not, or allow Manfred to mandate a schedule.

However, with some of MLB's recent positive tests coming in Florida — which has seen a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases — the earliest players could report for a second spring training (3-4 weeks long) is June 29, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported. Therefore, the earliest a season could begin is late July, leaving little time to squeeze in even 60 games.

MORE: All MLB teams will now hold spring training at home facilities

Playing into November isn't an option for the owners, and Dr. Anthony Fauci recently recommended MLB consider not playing into October due to the virus. When adding in the recent positive tests, this could be the last chance for the two sides to have the choice to play in 2020.

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MLB rejects players association proposal, will not agree to more than 60 games

MLB rejects players association proposal, will not agree to more than 60 games

This might sound familiar: After series of proposals exchanged between Major League Baseball and its players association, the two sides are at an impasse.

The league informed the union that it will not respond to its latest proposal and will not agree to more than 60 games, the MLBPA confirmed Friday. The players association reportedly last proposed 70 games from July 19 through Sept. 30, with  players receiving their full prorated salaries.

“Our Executive Board will convene in the near future to determine next steps,” the MLBPA said in its statement.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the players will likely vote by Saturday with two options in front of them: 1) Accept the 60-game offer that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark discussed earlier this week. 2) Let Manfred set a shortened schedule as the March agreement gives him the power to do.

The 60-game proposal reportedly requires the players union to waive its right to file a grievance, whereas falling back on the March agreement seems to leave that option open.

This week’s round of negotiations were initiated by a meeting between  Manfred and Clark. The two sides had been in the middle of a similar break in negotiations after Clark had declared in a statement that “further dialogue with the league would be futile.”

On 760 The Score, Cubs player rep Ian Happ said he was optimistic after Manfred and Clark’s meeting.

But in the days after the meeting, Manfred and Clark released conflicting statements.

Manfred said the two had created a “jointly developed framework that we agree could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents.”

Clark and the players association seemed to consider what Manfred called the “framework” of an agreement to be a proposal.

Clark insisted that he “made clear repeatedly in that meeting and after it that there were a number of significant issues with what (Manfred) proposed, in particular the number of games.”

According to Clark, Manfred “invited” a counterproposal.