Though negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA continue to drag on through Thursday, that was not the plan commissioner Rob Manfred had in mind when he met face-to-face with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on Wednesday.
Manfred believed the reason for the meeting was to get a deal done to bring baseball back right then and there, USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale and others reported on Thursday.
“I don’t know what Tony and I were doing there for several hours going back and forth and making trades if we weren’t reaching an agreement," Manfred said.
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Despite what Manfred wanted, their in-person discussion ended with no concrete deal in place. Instead, MLB proposed a new offer to the players that included a 60-game season. The MLBPA quickly rejected that offer and has since countered with their latest set of demands that includes a 70-game season, among other preferences.
The continuation of the back-and-forth is what Clark expected even when he took the meeting with Manfred on Wednesday. Though the two were able to come to a better understanding of what the players wanted, Clark explained in a statement that he made it clear there was still more work to be done.
"In my discussions with Rob in Arizona we explored a potential pro rata framework, but I made clear repeatedly in that meeting and after that it that there were a number of significant issues with what he proposed, in particular the number of games," Clark said.
"It is unequivocally false to suggest that any tentative agreement or other agreement was reached in that meeting. In fact, in conversations within the last 24 hours, Rob invited a counterproposal for more games that he would take back to the owners. We submitted that counterproposal [Thursday]," Clark said.
The meeting between Manfred and Clark may have not ended the drawn-out negotiations between the two sides, but there is optimism that an agreement will soon be reached. After Manfred noted earlier in the week that he was less confident there would be a season, the commissioner said on Thursday that everyone is on the same page in terms of wanting games to be played.
"We’re at the same place. We want to play. We want to reach an agreement," Manfred said. "We're doing everything necessary to find a way to play, hopefully by agreement.''
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