The NBA became the latest professional sports league to announce a return-to-play sports plan this week, leaving Major League Baseball as the only one still attempting to put together a blueprint for a 2020 regular season.
After team owners requested that players take additional pay cuts based on a sliding scale, the union countered with full prorated salaries and a 114-game regular season.
MLB rejected that proposal and reportedly has no intention to re-engage in discussions. They could now look to impose a 50-to-60 game regular season without necessarily coming to an agreement with the union on an economics plan.
Despite trading back-and-forth barbs through official statements, there is optimism within the industry that MLB and the Players Association will eventually compromise on an economic plan for the 2020 season, per Andy Martino of SNY:
And yet, there remains a high level of confidence in the industry that not only will baseball be played, but the owners and players will reach a new financial agreement.
The educated guess from one trusted source is that the final deal will call for 65-80 games with a small cut from the full prorated salary but a suspension of the competitive balance tax. Whether the final agreement takes that exact shape or a different one, it will have enough sweeteners for each side to sell it as a win to both the public and its members.
According to multiple people who have lived through many rounds and years of labor rancor in baseball, this is the stage when talks typically go back channel, with agents or union officials talking to MLB negotiators while the sides continue to battle in public via official statements and intentional leaks.
Though MLB commissioner Rob Manfred can use his authority to set the schedule for a 2020 regular season because of language in March 26 agreement, it is certainly preferred by both sides that an economics plan be mutually agreed upon.
And while team owners have expanded on their 50-game regular season proposal, they are still asking that players take an additional small pay cut.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark has made it clear additional salary reductions are a non-starter, but the sweeteners in the deal could perhaps be the clincher for an agreement.
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