MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly made a last-ditch effort to come to an agreement with the players’ union on the terms of a return to baseball on Sunday afternoon. Jeff Passan reported on Twitter that Manfred talked to Players Association president Tony Clark and offered several concessions in order to attempt to reach a deal. Manfred is said to have offered to make sure that there won’t be any expanded playoffs, or universal designated hitter in 2021, if a complete season isn’t played in 2020. Passan said players have been especially nervous about giving up the leverage of playoffs for nothing.
Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report said the offer is likely the last, best offer the players’ union is going to see from the owners’ side. The next step would be for Manfred to simply mandate the season and tell the players what the terms would involve.
The expanded playoffs and universal designated hitter in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons were part of the larger proposal put forward by the owners last week. They also reportedly said the maximum number of games they wanted to be played in 2020 was 60 regular-season contests. The players countered that offer by asking for 70 games. The counteroffer from the players was met with such frustration by some that reports said at least three owners were incensed.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, just a few days after the players gave their counteroffer, the owners declared that negotiations were effectively over.
Chiari pointed out that expanded playoffs are something that MLB owners have wanted for several years now. Revenue from those games would not be shared by the players in a shortened 2020 season the way regular-season ticket sales would be. The universal designated hitter is another feature that both sides have discussed for quite a while. Chiari said conceding on both of those points could hurt the Players Association when it comes time to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2021. Manfred’s offer to pull both features off the table would save the players some grief in that regard. It could also be a kind of olive branch that would allow MLBPA to give in to some of the owners’ demands and eventually come to a final agreement on when the 2020 season will start and how long it will be.
While some analysts have been surprised the two sides have not been able to meet in the middle, between the players asking for 70 games and the owners only wanting 60, Chiari pointed out it’s all about how much money a team could lose over the course of a shortened season. If MLB has to play games without fans in the stands, 10 fewer games would mean significant cost savings. As of Sunday night, Clark and the Players Association had not responded to Manfred’s latest proposal.