The back and forth continues as Major League Baseball and the players' union try to agree on a way to get a shortened 2020 season off the ground.
The latest rise and fall on the never-ending roller-coaster ride came one day after the league proposed a 60-game season in the wake of commissioner Rob Manfred's sit-down meeting with union chief Tony Clark. The players countered Thursday with a proposal for a 60-game season, which is reportedly likely to be rejected.
The Major League Baseball Players Association has finalized a proposal to MLB for a season in the neighborhood of 70 games, sources tell me and @JesseRogersESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 18, 2020
The MLBPA’s proposal to MLB is for 70 games, sources tell ESPN, and includes a split of playoff revenues.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 18, 2020
While the league is unlikely to accept this proposal, it’s close enough for optimism there will be a season — whether it’s via a deal or MLB setting a shorter schedule.
And on it goes.
Though "likely to be rejected" seems less than ideal, the developments in recent days — starting with Manfred and Clark meeting in person and continuing with dueling proposals — have reignited optimism that a baseball season is not far off. And that's a dramatic change from earlier this very week, when Manfred told ESPN that he was "not confident" a 2020 season would happen, a 180 from just days prior, when he guaranteed with 100-percent certainty there would be baseball this year.
The wild fluctuations have made for a nauseating experience for fans, many of whom are tired of hearing the details of proposals doomed to fail the very second they're reported on.
Last weekend, still just a few days ago, it appeared the negotiations were over, with Clark instructing Manfred to use his ability to implement a season of however many games of his choosing, as long as the players received their full prorated salaries. But the negotiations resumed, and the sides are now at a difference of merely 10 games, or 1/16 of a normal season. Of course, that's a quarter of $1 billion in player salaries.
There is still a $250 million difference with the union's latest proposal, with no signs the two sides will quickly reach a compromise— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 18, 2020
The league has seemingly relented on its search for players to take another pay cut on top of the prorated salaries they agreed to in March, and there's now plenty riding on the two sides reaching an agreement. That includes an expanded playoff field growing from 10 teams to 16 teams over the next two seasons — and postseason TV revenue growing with it — the adoption of the designated hitter in the National League and, of perhaps great concern to the league, the union promising it will not take legal action that could cost team owners hundreds of millions of dollars.
Many of those details were included in the latest proposals from both the league and the union.
Among the details in MLBPA’s new proposal, sources tell ESPN:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 18, 2020
- 70-game season from July 19-Sept. 30
- $50M in playoff bonuses
- 50/50 split of new postseason TV revenues in 2021
- Forgiveness of salary advance for Tier I-III players
- Universal DH
- Mutual waiver of grievance
If Manfred does resort to taking action without an agreement and implements a season of roughly 50 games, it's been speculated the union could file a grievance alleging the league did not try to play the most games possible. Similarly, there has been a suggestion that the league could also file a grievance asserting the union did not attempt to negotiate an economically feasible season.
The fact that the sides are trading proposals again has spurred an increase in confidence that a season is on the way. But the way this entire process has played out so far, even a gap as seemingly small as 10 games could end up a tricky, or at the very least a lengthy one to bridge.
MLB thought they had a deal Tuesday night at 60 games, which the union strongly disputed, so the owners not happy with new 70-game proposal— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 18, 2020
And so, while Wednesday's proposal from the league included a July 19 start date for the season, any alterations to your calendars should probably be made in pencil until there's an official announcement.