Discussions between Major League Baseball and the Players Association appear to be heading towards a path of no return.
Last week, team owners proposed a 72-game regular season that called for players making up to 80% of their prorated salaries and the possibility of earning more if an expanded postseason is able to be completed.
The union quickly rejected that offer, insisting they wouldn’t agree to anything short of the full prorated salaries promised to players in a March 26 agreement. They also essentially dared MLB to impose a schedule, asking owners to tell them when and where to report.
As the two sides continue to trade public barbs, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred offered reassurances less than a week ago that some form of a 2020 season will be played. However, he backtracked from those comments Monday during an interview with ESPN.
It prompted a resounding response from MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, who criticized Manfred and accused team owners of negotiating in bad faith since talks opened.
“Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told Players and fans that there would ‘100%’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season,” Clark said.
“Any implication that the Players Association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false, as Rob has recently acknowledged the parties are ‘very, very close.’ This latest threat is just one more indication that Major League Baseball has been negotiating in bad faith since the beginning.
“This has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from Players and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.”
Fearful of the possibility that the union may file a grievance against MLB, Manfred reportedly won’t schedule a 2020 season unless players waive their legal rights.
What’s more, the two sides must also agree to health and safety protocols before the length of a 2020 season can be determined — creating yet another obstacle that must be overcome.
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