For the first time in over three months, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB Players Association union head Tony Clark finally met face-to-face. On Wednesday, June 17th, Manfred flew from New York to Arizona to meet Clark in effort to get the players playing. Added pressure came from the players who started a Twitter campaign that told owners; tell us where to go to work and when, because we are ready. That put some urgency into a pretty urgent situation.
”At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix,” Manfred said in a statement Wednesday. ”We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents. Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the clubs to move forward, and I trust Tony is doing the same,” Manfred added.
What is that framework that “could form the basis of an agreement”?
- Anonymous sources tell the Associated Press the framework includes full pro-rated pay, even if games are played in empty ballparks.
- Each team will play 60 games over 10 weeks starting July 20, though a Sunday opener on July 19 could be added. The framework will result in players receiving about 37% of their salary, coming in at $1.48 billion, down from $4 billion.
- Baseball’s postseason will expand from 10 teams to 16 this year, and the two wild-card games would transform into eight, best-of-three series. That will yield a minimum of 14 new playoff games whose broadcast rights could be sold, and MLB would have the option of 14 or 16 postseason teams in 2021.
- MLB would guarantee a $25 million postseason players’ pool, creating postseason shares for players in the event no tickets are sold.
- The designated hitter would expand to all games in both leagues for the first time. The National League teams would play designated hitter games in seasons 2020 and 2021.
- The luxury tax will be suspended for 2020, saving money for the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers and Cubs.
- Both sides would contribute jointly to initiatives for social justice.
- Players with so-called split contracts, who get paid at a lower salary rate when sent to the minor leagues, would not have to repay the advance they already received.
Alright cool, now what?
Well the two sides will now meet with their respective constituents. For Manfred, that means the owners. For Clark, the players. Simple right? Of course not, it hasn’t been simple all along. We expect there to be backlash from one side or the other, but the hope is that any disagreements are quickly resolved.
Time is of the essence, and both sides need to agree quickly as it will take at least a month to get games going. If games begin by July 20th, we may have a decent season after all. Fingers crossed that the next chapter in this saga, is more positive news.