MLB, players association take positive steps toward a 60-game season

There could be a 2020 Major League Baseball season after all.

Positive negotiations took place Wednesday between MLB and the players’ union with the possibility emerging for a 60-game season starting July 19 with the players receiving their full-pro-rated salaries, two major league sources confirmed.

“There will still be more work to be done, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Rockies reliever Scott Oberg, the club’s player representative.

A face-to-face meeting in Phoenix between commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on Tuesday opened the door toward a possible deal as baseball attempts to start up its season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. USA Today was among media outlets first reporting the news.

Associated Press file

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, left, and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, met in Phoenix on Wednesday in an attempt to start the 2020 season.

“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,” Manfred said in a statement Wednesday. “I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today. Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same.”

According to USA Today, the two sides are scheduled to negotiate again Thursday with the goal of reaching a deal by Friday.

The latest proposal, the fourth by the owners, marks the first time the owners have agreed to pay full prorated salaries, something the players’ union has insisted upon since the MLB and the players agreed to shut down the game on March 26 because of the coronavirus pandemic. In return, the players would agree to expand the postseason from 10 to 16 teams and also would agree not to file a grievance against MLB, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

Clark had cut off talks on Saturday, a day after MLB’s third proposal, saying additional negotiations “would be futile.”

On Monday, Manfred told ESPN he was “not confident” that a 2020 baseball season would be played, walking back comments from last week when he said, “unequivocally, we are going to play Major League Baseball this year.”

The players, who requested an 89-game season in their last proposal, could still ask for a longer season if the union makes a counter-proposal, according to a source. The players could ask for a season of perhaps 65 to 70 games.

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