Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up
View All Scores

Rob Manfred thought he had a deal when he was only making a proposal

COVID-19 testing delays

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. looks on prior to game two of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Yesterday there was some confusion with respect to the ongoing negotiations between the players and the owners. Specifically: Rob Manfred was confused that there was an ongoing negotiation. He thought he had a deal.

Really. This is what he just told the press in response to getting the MLBPA’s counteroffer a couple of hours ago:

You’ll recall that the initial report of that offer, from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, was that the sides were “closing in on a deal.” The MLBPA immediately contradicted that, however:

So even if Manfred thought, somehow, that a face-to-face meeting with the MLBPA executive director, talking about broad terms without their respective legal teams present, resulted in a deal he knew by 3:01 PM Eastern time yesterday that he was mistaken. And, in any event, it was widely reported all yesterday afternoon and evening that MLB had made an offer of 60 games, and no one from Major League Baseball apparently pushed back on those reports.

So why in the heck is Manfred now saying he thought they had a deal? If I had to guess, I’d say that this is a continued function of a thing I talked about over the weekend: Manfred doesn’t have control of the ownership group, and in order to try to keep everyone in his disparate group of owners happy, he’s having to lurch from one position to another, reacting to their anger or objections while he is also dealing with the MLBPA.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t think of any other reason why an otherwise competent attorney and negotiator like Manfred is would conclude that a deal was done until a deal was 100%, absolutely done. Indeed, every attorney and negotiator knows that your work isn’t done until there is ink to paper.

In any event, the MLBPA has just responded:

For Manfred to keep this “I thought we had a deal” line up, he has to accuse Tony Clark of lying. I don’t think he’s going to do that. Because I don’t think he really believes they had a deal. I think he needs certain owners to believe that.

Follow @craigcalcaterra