Major League Baseball and the players union may not yet be close to an agreement on how to proceed with the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, but league commissioner Rob Manfred feels optimistic that a deal will eventually be reached.
In an interview on CNN that aired Thursday evening, Manfred contested that the league hopes “to convince the vast, vast majority of our players that it is safe to return to work."
“I think that whenever there’s a discussion about economics, publicly people tend to characterize it as a fight,” Manfred said. “Me personally, I have great confidence that we’ll reach an agreement with the players association—both that it’s safe to come back to work and work out the economic issues that need to be resolved.”
"If we don't play a season, the losses for the [club] owners could approach $4 billion," Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says about the economic impact of coronavirus on the sport. #CNNTownHall https://t.co/9whu1q9bxT pic.twitter.com/GHIMpCgYkB— CNN (@CNN) May 15, 2020
It has been just over two months since MLB postponed spring training due to the outbreak. The league’s 32 owners submitted a proposal to the players union Monday that outlined a plan for how a shortened season might be played. MLB is reportedly targeting June 10 to resume spring training before a season of approximately 82 games begins the first week of July.
However, recent reports have indicated that the league and union are in a stand-off over salary cuts for players. The two sides came to an agreement in March to reduce the salaries based on the number of games lost as a result of the virus.
But MLB has reportedly asked to renegotiate that deal after it became clear that if the season does begin this summer, it won’t be safe for fans to attend; ticket sales and concessions make for a significant chunk of both team and league revenue.
“I think it’s hopeful that we will have some Major League Baseball this summer,” Manfred said. “We are making plans about playing in empty stadiums but, as I’ve said before, all of those plans are dependent on what the public health situation is and us reaching the conclusion that it’ll be safe for our players and other employees to come back to work.”
There is no hard deadline for both sides to come to an agreement, but as Nationals starter Patrick Corbin said Thursday in an interview with NBC4 Washington, “the longer this goes, it’s going to take some more time for us to get back to the playing level that we need to.”
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