The Major League Baseball Players Association on Thursday proposed a 70-game regular-season schedule, a plan immediately rejected by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
In a statement announcing the counterproposal, which included expanded playoffs in 2020 and 2021, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said: “We believe this offer represents the basis for an agreement on a resumption of play.”
Sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan that among the details in the MLBPA’s proposal were:
A 70-game season from July 19 through Sept. 30
Full prorated pay
Spring training to begin June 26-28
Expanded playoffs to 16 teams in 2020 and 2021 seasons
Minimum pool for playoff shares in 2020 based on rounds played; $50 million if full playoff is staged
A 50/50 split of incremental TV revenue for any additional postseason games in 2021
Salary-advance forgiveness for all players in Tiers I to III of March agreement
Opt-outs — full service and salary for players who are high-risk and those who live with high-risk individuals
$10 million for social justice initiatives (funded from welfare plan)
$50 million to be transferred from joint funds (ITF) to the commissioner’s discretionary fund
Clubs granted permission to sell advertisements/patches on uniforms in 2020 and 2021
Enhanced housing allowances in spring training and regular season
Universal designated hitter in 2020 and 2021
Parties to collaborate on broadcast enhancements
Mutual waiver of potential grievances under the March agreement
“This needs to be over,” commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday. “Until I speak with owners, I can’t give you a firm deadline.”
Following a four-hour negotiation in Phoenix between Clark and Manfred on Tuesday, MLB emerged believing that the framework of a deal had been agreed upon, sources told ESPN.
MLB’s proposal on Wednesday — the league’s fourth offer — included a 60-game schedule and full prorated salaries.
“We had a list of issues. We stated positions on each of those issues. We then made trades and compromises across and within those issues,” Manfred said. “At several points in time, I went back to the list of issues with Tony and reviewed where we were, and I did that again at the end of the meeting. We shook hands, and we both agreed we were going to — push was the word — push our sides to reach an agreement consistent with that framework.”
The union disagreed with that accounting, and players said Wednesday that they viewed MLB’s proposed 60-game schedule as too short.
“In my discussions with Rob in Arizona, we explored a potential pro rata framework, but I made clear repeatedly in that meeting and after it that there were a number of significant issues with what he proposed, in particular the number of games,” Clark said in a statement Thursday. “It is unequivocally false to suggest that any tentative agreement or other agreement was reached in that meeting.
“In fact, in conversations within the last 24 hours, Rob invited a counterproposal for more games that he would take back to the owners. We submitted that counterproposal today.”
Manfred said Clark called him Wednesday night and said he was not going to present the framework to the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee.
“I told him 70 games was simply impossible given the calendar and the public health situation, and he went ahead and made that proposal anyway,” Manfred said.
Both MLB and the union proposed starting the season July 19, and players said it should end Sept. 30, three days later than management. Citing Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, MLB does not want to extend playing deeper into the autumn.
“Dr. Fauci’s out there telling us that football should [be] playing in a quarantine. The other two sports are playing in a quarantine,” Manfred said, referring to plans for the NBA and NHL. “Our guys want nothing to do with that. No. 2, Fauci says we shouldn’t be playing in October, and their proposal contemplates lengthening the season.”
MLB also does not want to bunch more games into the same time period.
“We told them we’re not playing doubleheaders,” Manfred said. “Our public health guys tell us you should not put people together for that number of hours in the day. It’s not safe. But they just keep ignoring those things.”
Absent a deal, the league has the ability to implement a season of its desired length, likely around 50 games, per a March 26 agreement between the sides, a move that probably would lead to a grievance from the players. The union surveyed player leadership about the proper path forward, cognizant that its decision could sour owners and prompt the league to implement a season instead of coming to a negotiated agreement.
In the deal MLB proposed, players would be paid their full prorated salaries — a total of $1.5 billion, or about 37% of their full-season salaries — and would receive another $25 million for postseason play and $33 million in forgiveness on the $170 million advance they received in the March agreement.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.