While the 2020 Major League Baseball season will be getting underway later this month, the negotiations to get to this point were anything but smooth.
MLB and the Players Association went back and forth for months, unable to agree on the number of games that would be played in 2020 with players making their full prorated salaries that were agreed upon in March.
Ultimately, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was forced to use his power to unilaterally implement a 60-game regular season. The MLBPA’s final proposal was for 70 games, so the two sides were not able to meet in the middle despite not being far apart.
Since there was no deal agreed to, the MLBPA reserved the right to file a grievance against the league. The original March agreement implied that the owners would do everything possible to play as many games as possible in 2020, which the MLBPA did not feel they tried to do in negotiations.
Manfred further added to the MLBPA’s claim by stating that the 2020 season was never going to be ‘more than 60 games.’ Those comments obviously did not sit well, forcing Manfred to clarify what he meant in an interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
“My point was that no matter what happened with the union, the way things unfolded with the second spike,’’ Manfred told USA TODAY Sports, “we would have ended up with only time for 60 games, anyway. As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that the course of the virus was going to dictate how many games we could play.’’
“As it turned out, the reality was there was only time to play 60 games. If we had started an 82-game season [beginning July 1], we would have had people in Arizona and Florida the time the second spike hit. We just weren’t going to be able to play more than 60 games at that point with everything being shut down. The reality is that we’re going to be lucky if we 60 games now given the course of the virus.’’
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to grow daily throughout the country, it is fair to assume now that playing more than 60 games is unrealistic. That was not always true throughout the months of negotiations though as the league made proposals of both 80 and 72 games with players making less than full prorated salaries, which make Manfred’s comments a bit suspicious.
Manfred’s reputation has taken a huge hit around the league in recent months, with prominent MLB agent Scott Boras even going as far as calling him a ‘pancake commissioner.’
Regardless, a 2020 season will be played and labor negotiations will be pushed back another year until after the 2021 season when the current collective bargaining agreement comes to an end. With the two sides still at odds, those negotiations are not expected to be much better than this year’s.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events and more!