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OC Register: Meeting between Rob Manfred, Tony Clarks yields new hope for 2020 MLB season


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The contentious relationship between Major League Baseball owners and players has apparently healed to the point that there is renewed hope the sides can agree on a course for a 2020 season.

Multiple reports on Wednesday morning indicated that Commissioner Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, head of the Players’ Assn., had at least one productive face-to-face meeting that had prompted a new offer from the owners.

The offer is for a 60-game season, starting July 19, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Players would receive their full pro-rated salaries — which would be about 37 percent of their full-season salary — and there would be expanded playoffs in 2020 and 2021, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

The news came just two days after Manfred said on ESPN that he was losing confidence in reaching an agreement with the players over the terms of the sport’s return amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Compensation was the heart of the issue, with players insisting on receiving their full pro-rated salaries, while owners sought further pay cuts in light of the likelihood of playing games in empty stadiums.

On Monday, Manfred said the players had been negotiating in “bad faith” and Clark responded that the players were “disgusted” by Manfred backtracking on his promise from last week that he was “100 percent” certain there would be a season.

The two reportedly had a face-to-face meeting in Arizona on Tuesday to help bridge the gap.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the two sides were “closing in” on an agreement on Wednesday morning. Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that a new proposal had just been sent from owners, and that there is “no agreement even in principle at this point.”

Players would like to receive their full pro-rated salaries for as many games as possible. Players are already losing at least half of their full salaries because the pandemic has already wiped out at least half of the scheduled 162 games.

Owners have offered reduced salaries or a shortened schedule of as little as 48 games. Owners could unilaterally impose a schedule, but they would be subject to a grievance from players that they did not make their “best efforts” to schedule as many games as possible.

The bridge may have been an expansion of the playoffs. Adding an extra round of postseason play could add significant revenue from television, helping compensate for the lack of fans. The players need to approve any change to the playoff format.

Even if the financial and logistical terms are agreed upon, there is still the looming threat of the coronavirus. The virus is still spreading quickly in many states, including California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, states that are home to 10 of the 30 major league teams.

More to come on this story.

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