After weeks of speculation that saw an array of possibilities made public, Major League Baseball team owners reached an agreement this week on a proposal for the 2020 regular season.
Although early indications had MLB eyeing a centralized location or two, the league shifted gears and now is eyeing staging Spring Training 2.0 and regular-season games at home ballparks. No matter the setting, of course, fans generally are not expected to be in attendance this year.
That likelihood prompted owners to seek a 50-50 revenue split, which the Players Association thus far has maintained is a nonstarter. The union’s stance largely hinges on a March agreement between MLB and the MLBPA for a lump sum that covered March and April, and prorated salaries for the regular season.
During an appearance on CNN’s “Global Town Hall,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred voiced confidence the league and union will strike a deal to address the economic factors at play:
“I think that whenever there’s a discussion about economics, publicly people tend to characterize it as a fight. Me, personally, I have great confidence that we’ll reach an agreement with the players association, both that it’s safe to come back to work and work out the economic issues that need to be resolved.”
Another sticking point for the union has been player safety, though Manfred believes MLB has adequately outlined protocols that allow for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing whenever needed. More importantly, MLB’s work with a lab in Utah has ensured tests will not be taken from those facing a more pressing need.
As the league and MLBPA engage in negotiations, a rough timeline of beginning the regular season by July has been established. That would require a second Spring Training — mainly comprised of workouts and intrasquad games — to resume in early June.
If Opening Day is held during the first few days of July, MLB should manage to navigate a season that roughly consists of 82 games.
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