Major League Baseball submitted a proposal for a 60-game season beginning July 19 or 20 that includes full prorated salaries for players and expanded playoffs the next two years, multiple reports confirmed Wednesday.
The new offer comes on the heels of a "productive" face-to-face meeting between commissioner Rob Manfred and union chief Tony Clark, which was held Wednesday in Arizona. Although MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported the two sides were "closing in on an agreement," the players union's communications department tweeted that "reports of an agreement are false."
"At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix," Manfred said in a statement. "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."
The reported proposal meets several of the union's main sticking points and represents the closest that the two sides have been since negotiations began in May.
Optimism for a 2020 campaign was at its bleakest earlier this week, when Manfred told ESPN that he was "not confident" a season would be played if the two sides weren't able to reach an agreement; his comments came only five days after he gave fans a "100 percent" guarantee that baseball would be played this year.
MLB had been insisting for weeks that it had the right to impose a season of approximately 50 games should no deal with the union be reached. Then, after the league's latest offer didn't satisfy the union's requests, the MLBPA informed league officials that it was putting an end to talks and asked to know "when and where" to report for spring training.
The league then reportedly backed off its threat of imposing a season after it discovered the MLBPA planned to file a grievance for over $1 billion if it followed through with it. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported that the newest offer includes a provision that would have the MLBPA waive its right to file any grievances after an agreement is reached.
This deal is not expected to be the final one agreed upon, as the players union is still reportedly seeking a season of more than 60 games. In addition, there will still need to be discussions about the health protocols that will have to be in place in order for games to be played. But given the progress that's been made over the last 24 hours, there is hope once again that baseball will return this summer.
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