The "will they or won't they" dance between the MLB owners and players regarding the start of the 2020 regular season amid the coronavirus pandemic has its latest tune.
Following conflicting reports from MLB insider Jon Heyman and The Athletic's Evan Drellich about ongoing negotiations between the league and the MLB Players Association, ESPN's Buster Olney reported that commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark made "significant progress" during talks on Wednesday.
That discussion, as Olney explained, was followed by owners offering the players a 60-game regular season with fully prorated pay.
This math represents a more realistic approach toward a union that walked away from the table after rejecting a 72-game proposal from the owners that reportedly included pay equal to what players would've earned for a 50-game campaign with 100 percent prorated salaries.
Players around the league took to Twitter on Tuesday to request that Manfred and ownership groups "tell us when and where" to report. Those tweets came after Manfred told ESPN's Mike Greenberg on Monday he was "not confident" there would be a season after recent talks between the parties broke down.
On March 26, players and owners came to terms on a deal that promised prorated salaries and service time in exchange for Manfred setting the length of the season. Manfred could, in return, schedule a campaign as short as 48-54 regular-season games.
Arguments over the financial aspects of that agreement have continued because games around the country likely will occur behind closed doors and without fans due to the uncontrolled virus outbreak. Owners have maintained the March deal was dependent on spectators attending games and that the players should accept additional salary reductions. The players, meanwhile, continue to insist the owners stick to the terms of the March agreement.
ESPN's Jeff Passan believes the players will ask for more than 60 games:
Worth noting: MLB’s last offer to the players maxed out at $1.5 billion. The money over a 60-game season at full pro rata: $1.5 billion.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 17, 2020
If there’s a deal to be done, it is going to be for more than 60 games. Union will counter higher. And somewhere in the middle is the season.
Meanwhile, Manfred released an official statement on Wednesday: