UPDATE (4 p.m. ET): Here is a statement from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on today's developments.
--End of Update--
UPDATE (3:15 p.m. ET): Well, that escalated quickly.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are nearing an agreement to play the 2020 season, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports.
Breaking: MLB and players union are closing in on an agreement to play the 2020 season, via players. Deal expected to be for prorated pay and include expanded playoffs.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 17, 2020
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark met face-to-face in Arizona to work out both sides' differences, per Heyman, and it appears they made significant progress.
The Athletic's Evan Drellich offered a word of caution, however, noting MLB simply sent a proposal for the 2020 season to the union.
Source says no deal is close yet between MLB and MLBPA beccause the proposal was just sent by MLB. No agreement even in principle at this point.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 17, 2020
The MLBPA also confirmed the two sides haven't reached any agreement.
Reports of an agreement are false.— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 17, 2020
-- End of update --
Might Major League Baseball get out of its own way, after all?
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark had a "productive" face-to-face meeting Wednesday in Arizona about the 2020 season, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported.
The New York Post's Joel Sherman confirmed Heyman's report, adding that Manfred and Clark also met Tuesday at Manfred's request.
Heard Manfred and Clark first met yesterday, also today. It is just them. Clearly an attempt for the 2 main folks to find common ground before potentially handing off to the lawyers. Heard so far that this is as productive as talks have been so far.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 17, 2020
That's not necessarily groundbreaking news, but it's notable considering Manfred and Clark hadn't even spoken since June 7 and have spent the past week involved in bitter negotiations via strongly-worded public statements.
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The latest statement came Monday night from Manfred, who admitted he's "not confident" MLB will have a 2020 season despite saying there would "100 percent" be a season days earlier.
MLB and its players have been unable to agree on pay, as owners want players to take another pay cut after already agreeing to prorated salaries back in March. According to Sherman, however, the league might be willing to budge for a 54-game season.
Key issue: MLB has shown willingness to pay full prorated for 54 games. How high does it have to go in games for union to say yes and give MLB what it desires: agreement for no grievances/expanded playoffs?— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 17, 2020
Time is of the essence for baseball to work this out, as Major League Soccer, the NHL and the NBA all are set to resume their seasons within the next two months. (The Boston Red Sox already were 74 games into their season at this point last year.)
If MLB wants to have a season worth watching and risk losing an already declining fanbase, it will need to translate Wednesday's meeting into an actual return-to-play plan that both sides can agree to.
Report: MLB, players union make progress on deal to play 2020 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston