Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Rob Manfred went on record recently to say that he is gradually losing confidence regarding the resumption of the 2020 season, arguing that the contentious discussions with the MLB Players Association (PA) is jeopardizing the league’s much-awaited return.
MLB players immediately reacted negatively to this news, as this was a clear reversal from Manfred’s comments last week, in which he claimed that the 2020 season will 100% return soon.
On June 15, the risk of losing the 2020 MLB season increased even more with the commissioner’s office telling the PA that the league will not release a schedule unless the PA waives its right to argue that management violated their March agreement. Manfred stated that the PA’s argument that the league failed its obligation to play the highest number of games was not made in good faith.
According to Manfred, the blame for the delay is squarely on the shoulders of the PA, saying that the discussions with the union over safety and health precautions for COVID-19 has been stalled by the PA’s tactics. Manfred stated that the team owners are all on board with the MLB season resumption this year, blaming the PA’s negotiation strategies for potentially sinking the 2020 season.
PA Believes Manfred is Posturing to Pressure Players
Tony Clark, the executive director for the PA, immediately issued a response to Manfred’s comments, expressing the union’s frustration over the commissioner’s public flip-flop on the 2020 baseball season resumption. Clark contested Manfred’s statement that the PA was causing the delays due to health and safety protocols, noting that Manfred himself had characterized the dialogue as close to done in previous statements.
According to Clark, Manfred’s comments were essentially a threat to cancel the season. It was also proof for Clark that the league had been the party negotiating in bad faith, using incendiary public statements to finesse a better position for the league and its owners by pressuring the PA members to take on even more pay cuts.
The MLB delivered a proposal on June 13 that mandated a 72-game season and a guarantee for 70% of prorated player salaries, with a ceiling of 83% for some. The lead negotiator for the PA, Bruce Meyer, rejected the proposal, arguing that it would cost players hundreds of millions of dollars while protecting the pockets of the league and team owners.