PHOENIX — Major League Baseball, infuriated with the union’s 70-game proposal that left the two sides nearly $300 million apart, informed the Major League Players Association on Friday that they will not make a counter-offer.
“MLB has informed the Association that it will not respond to our last proposal and will not play more than 60 games,’’ union chief Tony Clark said in a statement. “Our Executive Board will convene in the near future to determine next steps. Importantly, players remain committed to getting back to work as soon as possible.”
The union’s executive board is expected to meet this week and decide whether they will accept MLB’s last proposal of 60 games, lower their request, or simply walk away and dare MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to mandate a season.
If Manfred implements a season, which would provide the players full pro-rata pay, he has the right to determine the length of the schedule.
One high-ranking official told USA TODAY Sports that he believes that Manfred would still mandate a 60-game schedule, and not as few as 48 games, while Manfred still holds out hope for a settlement.
“We’re at the same place,’’ Manfred said Thursday. “We want to reach an agreement…. We’re doing everything necessary to find a way to play, hopefully by agreement.’’
Several owners told USA TODAY Sports that they aren’t willing to budge past 60 games, which guarantees the players $1.51 billion, but could foresee a scenario where an agreement could be reached on a 62-game schedule.
“This needs to be over,’’ Manfred said. “Until I speak with the owners, I can’t give you a firm deadline.’’
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In the union’s last proposal, they sought a 70-game season, $50 million in postseason revenue, and $33 million to be forgiven as part of the $170 million in upfront money that was paid before May 24. The union also agreed not to pursue a grievance, allow for an expanded postseason this year and in 2021, permit MLB to have advertising on their uniforms, and authorize $50 million to be transferred from joint funds to the commissioner’s discretionary fund.
If there is an agreement, the two sides agreed to talk about the possibility of having lengthy extra-inning games end in a tie. They will also adopt the minor-league rule in 2020 that every inning after the ninth during the regular season will start with a runner on second base.
Yet, if there is no agreement, and Manfred simply imposes a season, all rules will remain the same along with a 10-team postseason.
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