Baseball fans are growing increasingly doubtful that ongoing negotiations between Major League owners and players will produce a season agreement. But despite the stalemate, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is assuring fans across the country that there will indeed be a season this year.
In an interview with ESPN’s Karl Ravech, Manfred expressed his hope that an agreement will be reached soon. He also noted that the league will provide a “responsive proposal” to the most recent plan drawn up by the MLB Players Association this week consisting of an 89-game season and full prorated salaries.
“We’re hopeful that it will produce reciprocal movement from the players’ association, that we’ll see a number other than 100% on salary, and some recognition that 89 games, given where we are in the calendar and the course of the pandemic, is not realistic,” Manfred said.
Both sides have been locked in negotiations for weeks, with compensation being a key argument preventing any movement forward. Players have so far refused to budge on proposals for less than their full prorated salaries first agreed to in March. Owners on the other hand have called for further pay cuts in order to accommodate a significant loss in revenue brought on by the current pandemic.
Manfred’s authority as league commissioner entitles him to implement a condensed season should both sides remain in a deadlock. That scenario would reportedly consist of a 48-game season and whether players are granted full prorated salaries may determine if there is an expanded postseason. However, Manfred would rather see both sides come to a mutual agreement rather than overrule.
“I would prefer to negotiate a new agreement with the MLBPA that gets us more games and resolves the issues that have separated us amicably,” the commissioner said. “But at the end of the day, we negotiated for the right in March to start the season on a number of games that we select in these particular circumstances. And if we have to, we’ll exercise that right.”
A host of other concerns remain for the MLB, which will likely see revenues down over 70 percent, according to Manfred. Fears of a second wave of the coronavirus this fall have led Manfred to steer away from a revised regular season extending past September in order to earn proper postseason broadcast revenue.
“But you know what? I think at the end of the day the most important thing … is that we play Major League Baseball in 2020,” Manfred said. “And I can tell you unequivocally we are gonna play Major League Baseball this year.”