MLB, union struggle to come to an agreement over pandemic-shortened season despite repeated desires to play

Major League Baseball and the players union remain in battle over how to start the 2020 pandemic-shortened season — and now it’s come down to how many games the sides want to play.

The players union proposed a 70-game regular-season schedule on Thursday, which was rejected by Commissioner Rob Manfred. The sides appeared to be 10 games and $275 million apart. The union had also proposed that players would wear ads on their uniforms, which would be a historical move.

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Manfred, appearing frustrated over the negotiations, said that the squabbling back-and-forth “needs to be over.”

“Until I speak with owners, I can’t give you a firm deadline,” he said.

Both sides have envisioned spring training starting June 26, which would have pitchers and catchers report Monday to start their medical intake testing the following day.

Progress was thought to have been made earlier this week, when union executive Tony Clark met with Manfred in Arizona. While Manfred said the two were coming close to an agreement on “framework,” the union said it was just another proposal.

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Clark pushed for 70 games while Manfred argued that 60 was more reasonable. According to the Associated Press, the union proposal would have $1.73 billion in salaries, plus a $50 million postseason pool. MLB’s plan would have players receive about 37 percent of salaries, as opposed to the union’s 43 percent plan.

Manfred expressed concerns about playing too late into the fall, when a second wave of coronavirus could spring up.

“I told him 70 games was simply impossible given the calendar and the public health situation, and he went ahead and made that proposal anyway,” he said.

“Dr. Fauci’s out there telling us that football should be playing in a quarantine. The other two sports are playing in a quarantine," Manfred said. "Our guys want nothing to do with that. Number two, Fauci says we shouldn’t be playing in October and their proposal contemplates lengthening the season.”

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Manfred was also steadfast against playing doubleheaders.

Neither side has wavered and the hope of progress being made was diminished Thursday. Manfred could implement a 50-game season based on a March 26 agreement. The move would likely spur a grievance from the players.

“We want to play. We want to reach an agreement,” Manfred said. “We’re committed to doing whatever is necessary to find a way to play, hopefully by agreement.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.