Whether you are on the side of the owners or of the players or on the third side of please just get a deal done, the one thing I think we can all agree on is that this entire negotiation to get a 2020 season going, and the way it has been so public, has been a slog. Literally no one has enjoyed this. It seemed like things hit their absolute rock bottom early in the week when, out of nowhere, Rob Manfred declared on Sunday that he was no longer 100 percent confident there would be a season at all. Then, we started to hear whispers a not-insignificant number of owners actually didn’t want a season at all. It was hard not to be as pessimistic as we’ve been throughout this entire process.
However, apparently things took a turn for the better during the radio silence that came down after Sunday’s events. On Tuesday, in fact, Manfred and Tony Clark actually met in person, which I believe is the first time that has happened throughout all of this, which is absurd in its own right. That’s good news, though! Generally during these kinds of public negotiations, the periods of silence can be the most productive. Funny how that works, eh?
Then, the real jubilation came Wednesday afternoon, for at least a little bit until things came crashing down later. Not all the way down, but down. Jon Heyman was the one who made the report, and in hindsight probably jumped the gun on said report. He declared that the sides were “closing in” on a deal. Hooray! It’s finally over!
Except, well, apparently not so fast. It appears the owners latest proposal — which we’ll get to the details of in just a second — was seen by their side as being a framework already agreed to by Clark and the players. Clark and the players, meanwhile, see it as another proposal from the owners and one that can and likely will be counter-offered.
There are, I think, a few key points to make here. One is the proposal itself. The owners call for 60 games in a season that would start somewhere in the last couple of weeks in July and end on September 27. There would be an expanded playoff field of 16 teams for this year as well as 2021. Similarly, there would be a universal DH for 2020 and 2021 as well. Players salaries would be prorated as they’ve been searching for, and they’d also get a bit of a bump in playoff pool money and there would be a bit of salary forgiveness on the advance they already got. If that last part wasn’t included, players making the minimum would’ve essentially been playing for free. Players would also agree not to file a grievance about anything relating to this.
The players are not going to take this deal, as they are going to call for more games. Anyone reading this site regularly knows I am sympathetic to the players in 99 percent of the time, and I am here as well. They want more games, and there is still some time for that. However, there are two arguments I’d make against the players here. Firstly, the one area in which I’ve been in agreement with ownership through all of this is that the season can’t go too long. Proposing a season that ends in mid-November simply seems out of the question given the ongoing COVID pandemic and the concerns about things getting even worse in the fall. This is why it was so imperative for a deal to get done early.
Secondly, while I don’t think messaging should be the number one concern, after the whole “just tell me when and where” campaign — which, for whatever it’s worth, I thought was a great move — it doesn’t look great to then reject a deal. Again, I don’t think they should take a deal just to look good, but they’re going to get backlash and it won’t be hard to see where it’s coming from.
All of this being said, I think a deal gets done by the time this weekend is through, probably for about 66 games and all of the other details above. Speaking of which, the universal DH is just about certain to be here to stay even beyond 2021. The expanded playoffs are as well. I’ll speak a little more on those if/when a deal is finalized, but the short version is the former is huge for J.D. Martinez and the latter just plain stinks.