NEW YORK – An email from baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to union head Tony Clark led to a balk in the drawn-out talks to start the pandemic-delayed season, which now won't begin by July 19.
The executive committee of the players’ association was set to vote and reject Major League Baseball’s latest offer for a 60-game season on Sunday.
“I really believe we are fighting over an impossibility on games,” Manfred said in the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “The earliest we will be ready for players to report is a week from Monday, given the need to relocate teams from Florida. That leaves 66 days to play 60 games. Realistically, that is the outside of the envelope now.”
Players want 70 games and $275 million more than teams are offering. They are worried that if a resurgence of the new coronavirus causes the 2020 season to be cut short, the deal being negotiated would lock in innovations for 2021 and lessen the union’s bargaining power.
“Tony, am writing to reiterate what I told you on the phone a few minutes ago,” Manfred wrote. “Given the Covid developments, I understand that the players are concerned that the 2020 season will be truncated beyond the agreed upon number of games (for example, we agree to play 60 and can only play 40). If that were to happen, I would be prepared to eliminate the 2021 components of the deal. That would mean that we would not get the expanded playoffs in 2021 and the DH rule would revert to the current rule (DH in AL, no DH in NL).”
Players didn’t take a vote and will consider their next move Monday.
The 2020 only items in the deal include starting extra innings with runner on second and a discussion of whether to allow tie games after a specified total of innings plus player re-entry in extra innings.
Some players would prefer there not be a deal and that Manfred unilaterally order the schedule. Because players insisted on full prorated pay, he threatened a schedule of about 50 games. MLB agreed to prorated pay when Manfred met with Clark last week.