MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media in Orlando on Thursday. He provided updates on the ongoing negotiations between both sides, adding that they are going to meet again on Saturday.
The first question Manfred was asked was in regards to the start of spring training. Many expected him to announce it would be delayed, but instead he said it’s expected to go on schedule.
“The status of spring training is no change,” Manfred said. “We’re going to have a conversation with the MLPA on the calendar. We understand where the calendar is. Until we have that conversation and see how this session on Saturday goes, it’s no change.”
The Dodgers’ first spring training game is scheduled for Saturday, February 26, exactly two weeks following Saturday’s meeting.
With spring training still scheduled to start on time, Manfred also added he’s optimistic the regular season will start on time as well. He believes they will have an agreement in time to play the regular season schedule. ‘Disastrous’ was the word he used to describe potentially losing regular season games.
“The clubs, our owners completely understand how important it is to our fans that we get the game on the field as soon as possible,” Manfred said. “We have proposed an agreement that is better in every respect than the current agreement.
“We are going to make a good faith, positive proposal in an effort to move the process forward.”
During his press conference, Manfred added that he believes they could get spring training started less than a week following an agreement. So, theoretically, if both sides reach an agreement on Saturday, maybe it won’t be delayed after all. Manfred said that four weeks of games is an ideal number before starting the regular season.
But let’s be honest with ourselves, an agreement on Saturday seems unlikely based on how the negotiations have gone so far.
Some other notable takeaways from Manfred’s press conference:
- He said that the sides have agreed to a universal designated hitter. Manfred that said that by adding the DH to the National League, additional jobs will be created for veteran players.
- Elimination of draft pick compensation.
- Expansion of playoffs. Manfred added that it’s great for the fans and that the new format will encourage more clubs to compete.
- Addition of draft lottery, forcing more teams to compete through the end of the season.