After days of angry exchanges over money between Major League Baseball and the players’ association, Commissioner Rob Manfred started to doubt whether there would be a 2020 season and said as much on national television.
He then called union head Tony Clark and offered to fly from New York to Arizona to meet for the first time in three months. They spoke one on one for several hours Tuesday in a room at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale and emerged with what MLB considered a framework for each leader to sell to his side.
MLB thought it had terms to play the pandemic-delayed season in empty ballparks, not just a proposal.
The union said nothing publicly and staff conferred with the eight-man executive subcommittee and other players. Some on the players’ side considered the framework merely another plan subject to more bargaining.
The framework includes full prorated pay, even if games are played in empty ballparks, people familiar with the details told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because details were not announced.
Each team would play 60 games over 10 weeks starting July 20, though a Sunday opener on July 19 could be added. The framework would result in players receiving about 37% of their salaries and would come to roughly $1.48 billion from salaries originally totaling $4 billion.
Baseball’s postseason would expand from 10 teams to 16 this year, and the two wild-card games would transform into eight best-of-three series. That would create a minimum of 14 new playoff games whose broadcast rights could be sold, and MLB would have the option of 14 or 16 postseason teams in 2021.
MLB would guarantee a $25 million postseason players’ pool, creating postseason shares for players in the event no tickets are sold.
The designated hitter would expand to all games for the first time, also involving games between National League teams, for 2020 and 2021.
The luxury tax would be suspended for 2020, saving money for the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers, and Cubs.
Both sides would contribute jointly to initiatives for social justice.