Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and players’ union head Tony Clark have developed a framework that Manfred said Wednesday could form the basis of an agreement as the two sides try to start the pandemic-delayed season.
Manfred said he met with Clark at his request for several hours on Tuesday in Phoenix, where Clark has a home and where he has been since spring training was cut short on March 12.
“I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today,” Manfred said in a statement. “Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same.”
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported the offer on the table from owners is to play a 60-game regular season starting July 19 with a full prorated portion of individual player salaries. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported players see a “pathway to a deal.”
The division between owners and players appears to be growing through public negotiating tactics and modest proposals. Clark and the union broke off negotiations on Saturday and ultimately asked Manfred to use his power as commissioner to set the outline of the season, including the number of games and when the playoffs would end. The statement from Clark prompted players to launch a social media campaign of which the gist was “Tell us when and where” the season will begin.
‘The country needs baseball’
Manfred is pushing to play the season according to multiple franchise owners and decision-makers, who’ve talked about the challenges facing baseball on the record. Whether he has enough support from owners to put players on the field for games that won’t likely include fans in attendance is another matter.
Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said Tuesday in a NESN interview that “No one wants to play baseball more than Rob. … Nobody is more dedicated to serving the game than Rob. He’s been working in baseball, working with the owners, the front offices for decades. This is something that is critical and both sides need to talk and get to a place where we can get the game back on the field.
“But as you heard [Monday] night, that’s very, very difficult to do without a lot of dialogue. So I’m very hopeful on behalf of our fans and everyone in our front office that the dialogue picks up and the two sides are able to talk and get to a place where we can start playing again. The country needs baseball and we’re ready to go at Fenway Park.”
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported “at least eight” owners are against playing the 2020 season.
Manfred needs approval of 22 of baseball’s 30 owners to resume the season.
Union cut off talks Saturday
The two sides have been about $1 billion apart in guaranteed salary as they try to reach a deal to start the season. Players originally were set to earn $4 billion in salaries before the coronavirus outbreak began.
The sides reached a deal on March 26 in which players agreed to prorated salaries, part of an agreement that included a guarantee of service time even if no games are played this year.
Teams say they need more pay cuts to afford to play in empty ballparks. Players say they will not accept additional salary reductions.
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