MLB won’t make counter offer to Players Association; season likely not to be more than 60 games

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NEW YORK — MLB does not plan to make a counter offer to the player’s union to try to restart the season.

On Friday, after another tumultuous, yet somewhat positive, week of back-and-forth salary negotiations between the Players Association and the league, MLB decided not to counter the union’s 70-game plan. It also wouldn’t agree to a 2020 season with more than 60 games played in it.

“MLB has informed the Association that it will not respond to our last proposal and will not play more than 60 games,” the Players Association responded in a statement. “Our Executive Board will convene in the near future to determine next steps. Importantly, Players remain committed to getting back to work as soon as possible.”

The players could vote on the league’s last 60-game offer by Saturday, according to John Heyman.

The league and team owners plan to discuss next steps over the weekend, according to The Athletic.

Whatever those next steps are could either let fans and players hold out hope on seeing baseball this year, or could end up being more of the same.

Last week, commissioner Rob Manfred said he was “100%” sure baseball would have a 2020 season, but on Monday he back-tracked that comment.

“I’m not confident,” Manfred told ESPN of his thoughts on a season actually happening. “I think there’s real risk, and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue.”

Union boss Tony Clark said players were “disgusted” by the league’s dishonesty.

“Any implication that the Players Association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false, as Rob recently acknowledged that the parties are ‘very, very close,’” Clark said in the statement. “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 bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.”

Players launched a Twitter storm against Manfred and the league, each demanding to be told “when and where” to meet to start playing. Two days of fiery comebacks later, Manfred met up with Clark to have a discussion about the impasse in negotiations (after two months of unproductive back-and-forth), and the framework for relaunching the season was discussed.

“At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix,” Manfred said in a statement. “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.

According to details reported about that 60-game proposal, players would: receive their contracted salaries prorated to the number of games they play (based on the original March 26 agreement); start the season around July 19; and expand playoffs in 2020 and 2021.

If the players do not agree to the offer, Manfred could (and would) likely still set the schedule for somewhere between 50 and 60 games.

While this signals more optimism a season might happen, recent spikes of cases of the novel coronavirus around the country could tell a different story. And the once projected plan to restart a shortened spring training in Florida — where a rushed reopening of the state has led to an increase in cases, particularly over last weekend where the number of cases rose more than 2,000 per day for two days — could be squashed.

The Phillies and Blue Jays both shutdown their facilities in Clearwater and Dunedin after the Phillies confirmed five players and three staff members tested positive for the virus. Another report surfaced the Mets were thinking of moving their spring training to Citi Field — the number of cases in the Big Apple have decreased enough for Governor Andrew Cuomo to OK the city to enter Phase 2 of its re-opening on Monday.

Even if the state of the coronavirus in other parts of the country seem to be improving, the health experts still warn a second wave of the virus could come in the fall, when baseball typically starts its postseason.


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