Less than a week ago, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said he was ‘100%’ certain a 2020 regular season would be played. Manfred made the remark just before the 2020 MLB Draft began and in the face of ongoing friction with the Players Association.
The MLBPA went on to reject the league’s proposal for a 72-game regular season with players making 80% of their prorated salaries and the ability to earn slightly more if an expanded postseason is able to be completed.
The union reiterated their desire for full prorated salaries — which players have held was agreed to on March 26 — and instructed owners to simply tell them when and where to report. That led to an expectation Manfred would unilaterally impose a schedule for the 2020 season.
However, on Monday he said he was no longer fully confident MLB would have a season. According to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, the league informed players a schedule would not be set unless the MLBPA waived its right to pursue legal action:
The chance that there will be no Major League Baseball season increased substantially Monday when the commissioner’s office told the players’ association it will not proceed with a schedule unless the union waives its right to claim management violated a March agreement between the feuding sides.
Along with the growing sense Manfred would implement a schedule because MLB and the union wouldn’t manage to break past their deadlock, so too emerged the likelihood of players filing a grievance.
They have long held MLB is not negotiating in good faith and reiterated that stance in the wake of Manfred’s latest claim. “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,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement.
“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.”
With MLB believed to be holding firm in concluding the regular season by Sept. 27, some believe Manfred’s comments are a stall tactic so that only an estimated 50 games can be scheduled.
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