What a 10 minute ride we just had in the baseball world. At 2:23pm ET Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported that the MLBPA and MLB were closing in on an agreement to play the 2020 season and that the deal was expected to be for prorated pay and would include expanded playoffs.
Then entire minutes later, Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that sources said no deal is close yet between the two sides because the proposal was just sent by Major League Baseball and that there was no agreement even in principle at this point.
Two minutes after that, it was Jon Heyman again reporting that as a part of the pending agreement to play that the union had agreed to waive any grievance against Major League Baseball.
So what does this all mean? Well, it could mean a lot, and technically, both reports can be true. How can they both be true? Well, Heyman could be correct that the two sides are close because Rob Manfred and Tony Clark have met in person over the last two days and Major League Baseball did send over a proposal – and it’s unlikely they would have done so after those meetings if it wasn’t going to be met with likely approval from the players. Clark knows what his guys want and will almost assuredly vote yes on.
At the same time, Drellich could be correct in his reporting because the proposal was just sent over to the players today. That means that the players have not even seen the proposal yet. They are still going to need to look at it, and then discuss any issues that they may have with it, and then vote on approving, denying, or countering it with alterations to it. That’s going to take at least a little bit of time.
Both things can be true, even though on the surface they do seem to conflict with each other. Now, getting to the whole grievance part of things. That’s where it gets a little more interesting. The grievance, it would seem, is only there if the ownership side does not make an attempt to play as many games as possible while paying the prorated salary that was agreed upon in the March agreement between the two sides.
There are two theories out there about this concession. The first is that ownership is actually making an attempt at playing as many games as possible, and thus the grievance couldn’t even be filed. The other theory is that perhaps the expanded playoffs means the regular season ending a week earlier, so the World Series can still end “on time” from the owners standpoint – and the two sides are meeting in the middle on a “regular season” number of games as a result, which would have the players willing to drop the grievance clause of the March contract as a result. Or it could be something else entirely that this particular writer hasn’t seen or hasn’t been able to come up with.
This is a developing story and we will keep an eye out for more updates and share them here if they come in.
Update at 3:05pm ET
From the Major League Baseball Players Association:
Reports of an agreement are false.
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 17, 2020
Worth noting, of course, that this isn’t necessarily news suggesting they have turned down the offer. This is simply saying that there is no agreement in place. As noted above, the proposal from Major League Baseball was just submitted at some point today. The players likely haven’t even had a chance to go over it entirely at this point, much less discuss it among the teams with their reps bringing back the feedback.
Update at 3:10pm ET
Things are moving fast. Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that the proposal by Major League Baseball would be for 60 games, at prorated salaries, with a season beginning on July 19th.
Update at 3:17pm ET
Jeff Passan of ESPN just shared this, and it’s certainly worth noting that it’s likely going to result in a counter offer from the players.
Worth noting: MLB’s last offer to the players maxed out at $1.5 billion. The money over a 60-game season at full pro rata: $1.5 billion.
If there’s a deal to be done, it is going to be for more than 60 games. Union will counter higher. And somewhere in the middle is the season.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 17, 2020
Craig Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus was on a similar page:
you don't need the last bullet point if the first bullet point is enough to actually satisfy the grievance. The prior owner offer was below pro-rata but equivalent to pro-rata for…57 games? So they've moved 3 games and added everything they want? https://t.co/TQMLd8NBVL
— The Duality of Craulg (@cdgoldstein) June 17, 2020
Updated at 3:40pm ET
Robert Murray is now reporting this:
Two sources with direct knowledge do not expect Major League Baseball’s latest proposal to the MLBPA to get a deal done. If a deal will be agreed upon, as @JeffPassan said, it needs to be for more than 60 games.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) June 17, 2020
Update at 3:50pm ET
Rob Manfred has released a statement:
At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix. 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. 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.