Report: Manfred Urges MLB Teams to Pay Employees, Not Consider Job Reductions

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2020

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions at a press conference during MLB baseball owners meetings, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has reportedly urged teams to continue paying their non-player employees through at least April even though the league is facing a "potential multibillion-dollar shortfall" because of the coronavirus pandemic.

ESPN's Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel reported Wednesday that Manfred also "cautioned against" job reductions despite MLB's 2020 schedule remaining in limbo.

MLB is working with the Players Association on an agreement about how to handle a season the sides "hope" can begin by early June, per ESPN.

Several players told Passan and McDaniel they are willing to play a "significant number" of doubleheaders, perhaps two per week, in order to come as close to 162 games as possible to avoid a major reduction in their salaries on a prorated basis.

Each side is also preparing for a "doomsday scenario" where the 2020 campaign is canceled, which would lead to major disputes about whether players whose contracts are set to expire after this season should become free agents in the winter, according to ESPN.

Meanwhile, the non-player employees could face "salary cuts, furloughs, deferred payments or layoffs" in May if there isn't a clear path forward to get the season underway, which would leave teams without the necessary television and attendance revenue, per Passan and McDaniel.

The wide-ranging update comes a day before MLB was scheduled to celebrate Opening Day, with all 30 clubs originally expected to take the field Thursday.

Instead, the league initially announced the start of the season would be delayed at least two weeks, but Manfred later told teams on a conference call it would follow CDC guidelines for large gatherings, which would push the beginning of the campaign to mid-May at the earliest.

The ESPN report noted the end result could be a season that pushes into November, with playoff games at either domed stadiums or neutral sites in warm-weather cities.