Red Sox Nation rejoices as MLB closes in on deal with players.
Finally, some reason for optimism that the Boston Red Sox will play games this summer. After months of petty squabbling that seemingly put the owners miles apart from the player’s union, we’re now closer to the baseball schedule restarting than we have been since the pandemic brought spring training to a screeching halt.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Major League Baseball and the player’s union are closing in on an agreement to play the 2020 season.
The deal is expected to ensure that players are paid their full prorated salaries based on the number of games played and include an expanded playoff format with 16 teams instead of 10.
The expanded postseason is great news for the Red Sox. It appeared this would be a dreaded bridge year after the front office slashed payroll and traded away their best player, leaving them hopelessly behind the Yankees in Rays in their division. With more playoff teams in the hunt, Boston has a legitimate chance of playing into October.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic added that the new proposal from MLB is expected to include a 60-game schedule in 70 days beginning July 19.
Owners were pushing for a shorter schedule closer to 50 games if they had to pay players their full prorated salary. Commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to implement a schedule of his choosing if the sides fail to come to an agreement and the belief is that the number would be close to what the owners want.
There was some concern over the past week when Manfred suddenly changed his tune from essentially guaranteeing there will be a season to expressing doubt. The perception was that he was either posturing to bring the players back to the negotiating table or stalling until there was no longer time to play more than 50 games.
If the former was his intention, it appears the plan worked. According to Heyman, Manfred met with union chief Tony Clark for a “productive” face-to-face meeting in Arizona. Shortly after, Heyman broke the news about the potential agreement.
If the latter is true that MLB’s previous offers were merely a stalling tactic to create the perception they are negotiating in good faith, at least increasing the number of games to 60 while retaining the full prorated salaries is a sign of significant progress.
It will take time for teams to reassemble at their facilities and players will need approximately three more weeks of spring training to prepare. Moving up the mid-July timeline isn’t reasonable and they need to finish the regular season by late-September in order to fit in the expanded postseason before the end of October. Pushing the playoffs further back is a deal-breaker due to the risk of another wave of COVID-19 and the television networks insisting that they won’t alter their schedule.
That doesn’t leave time for more than 70 games unless they eliminate all off-days and load up on doubleheaders. The players may counter with 70 and the sides will end up settling at around 65 games. Let’s call is 66 since an even number is easier for scheduling purposes.
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That seems reasonable. The sides are finally so close that the only unreasonable outcome would be if they somehow fail to cross the finish line.