Although last week began with some optimism Major League Baseball and the Players Association would soon come to an agreement for the 2020 regular season, more public disagreement ensued.
Days after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he could no longer guarantee there would be a season, he reached out to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark to arrange a meeting in Arizona. On the surface that was a step forward, but the two sides remained at odds over the length of a 2020 season.
Owners were under the impression Manfred secured an understanding that 60 games was the max MLB would agree to, while Clark insisted he made it clear the union would not accept that few games. The MLBPA executive committee is next expected to vote on whether to approve the 60-game schedule or force Manfred’s hand in imposing a season.
In the meantime, Manfred offered to eliminate an expanded postseason and universal designated hitter in 2021 if a season this year is interrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred sent a letter to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark today offering to cancel expanded playoffs and universal DH for 2021 if a full season isn’t played in 2020, sources tell ESPN. Players are concerned about giving up leverage of playoffs for naught.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 21, 2020
Whereas the MLBPA has remained staunch in their demand for full prorated salaries, MLB has been similarly committed to getting approval from the union for an expanded postseason for at least this season.
Though, MLB’s latest offer entailed a 16-team postseason and universal DH for both 2020 and 2021. Theoretically, an expanded playoff field would amount to more games and thus more television revenue, which would aid the league in recouping this year’s losses.
Players have generally been open to appeasing MLB, so long as any agreement would include full prorated salaries. If Manfred is required to impose a season, it likely would not feature an expanded 2020 MLB postseason.
Other changes the league and Players Association reportedly agreed to were placing a runner on second base for games that go into extra innings, and discussing the possibility of allowing for ties in 2020.
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