It took a while, but major league owners finally made an offer to the players that included full pro-rated pay that was already agreed to back in March, per multiple reports. Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic laid out the offer in the clearest form:
Source: MLB proposal includes:— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 17, 2020
•60 games in 70 days
•Season starting July 19th/20th
•Full Prorated Salary
•Expanded Playoffs in 2020 and 2021
•Waiving of any potential grievance
This offer came after face-to-face meetings between commissioner Rob Manfred and players union executive director Tony Clark for several hours in Arizona on Tuesday.
“We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents. I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today,” Manfred said in a statement Wednesday. “Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same.”
It’s not an agreement, but it’s progress at least.
All part of a whirlwind week, starting on June 10 when Manfred before the MLB Draft said, “We’re going to play baseball in 2020, 100 percent.”
The players association on Saturday responded to a third ownership offer of further pay cuts by saying “further dialogue with the league would be futile” and challenging Manfred to implement the schedule. “It’s time to get back to work,” Clark said. “Tell us when and where.”
In an interview Monday with ESPN, Manfred walked back his “100 percent” comment, saying, “I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk [a season wouldn’t happen]; and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue.” That was coupled with deputy commissioner Dan Halem writing a letter to the union saying the league would not implement a schedule unless the players waived a right to file a grievance.
To get players to waive their right to a grievance would require significant movement from the owners, which means 60 games at pro-rated pay probably won’t get it done.
The owners’ previous offer, last Friday, was a 72-game season, but with only 70 percent of player salaries guaranteed. That would bump to 80 percent if the postseason was completed, the equivalent of 50 games at full pro-rated pay guaranteed, and just shy of 58 at maximum.
Now this offer guarantees players 60 games of pro-rated pay, which is movement. Figure the players, whose previous offers were for 114 and 89 games, will counter this and the two sides could meet potentially in the middle.
Starting the season in late July is needed at this point to allow teams time for some sort of spring training, and if MLB is adamant about finishing its regular season on the original end date of Sept. 27 that leaves only 70-71 days to cram in the schedule.
That’s been one of the sticking points for the players, many of whom claimed the owners kept producing similar offers as a stall tactic, so that there would only be time for the shortened season the owners wanted in the first place. To get players to agree not to file a grievance, more movement is needed, it would seem.
But this seems like a better place than Monday, when things looked bleakest. Maybe the two sides can still work out a deal. It sure seems more possible today than two days ago. But if anyone tells you they’re 100% sure one way or another, don’t believe them in the slightest.