(Reuters) – Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Wednesday he met with the head of the MLB Players Association this week and they put together the framework of a deal to salvage a 2020 season amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Manfred, who had previously said he was “not confident” a 2020 season would happen, requested a one-on-one meeting with MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark and the two spent several hours together in Phoenix.
“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,” Manfred said in a statement.
“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.”
MLB and the players’ union have been trying to find common ground on a return-to-play plan for the 2020 season but have been unable to reach agreement in areas like player compensation and the number of games played.
Last week Manfred pegged the likelihood of a 2020 season as “100%” but dramatically shifted his tone this week after the union on Saturday rejected MLB’s latest offer of a reduced 72-game schedule with 80% prorated salaries and called off talks.
According to reports, owners have since offered to pay players their full pro-rated salaries in exchange for a 60-game season that would begin on July 19.
MLB was scheduled to open its 162-game regular season in late March but delayed the campaign due to the pandemic.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)