Rob Manfred Says MLB Owners Could Lose $4 Billion If 2020 Season Gets Canceled

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 15, 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

Major League Baseball would face a massive financial hit should it be forced to cancel the entire 2020 season. 

According to commissioner Rob Manfred, who spoke during a CNN town hall Thursday, owners could lose nearly $4 billion this summer alone.

Anderson Cooper 360° @AC360

"If we don't play a season, the losses for the [club] owners could approach $4 billion," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says about the economic impact of coronavirus on the sport. #CNNTownHall  https://t.co/e4xneYOMDI https://t.co/glHTd4XkHo

"The economic effects are devastating, frankly, for the clubs," Manfred said. "We're a big business, but we're a seasonal business. And unfortunately, this crisis began at kind of a low point for us in terms of revenue. We hadn't quite started our season yet. And if we don't play a season, the losses for the owners could approach $4 billion."

It doesn't appear MLB is headed for the worst-case scenario just yet. 

The league and players union are working towards an 82-game season instead of a full 162-game slate. The plan would reportedly call for a modified spring training in June with games beginning in July. As of now, there is no intention of allowing fans in ballparks should the sport return. 

Yet there are still a few major roadblocks before that can happen. The biggest: revenue sharing. 

The concept is unprecedented in baseball, and owners have become adamant of its necessity in order to play the season out. Such a change in MLB's economic structure would leave players with even less money than the two sides already agreed to this season.

Manfred waved off the negative pushback Thursday. 

"I think that whenever there's a discussion about economics publicly people tend to characterize it as a fight," Manfred said. "Me, personally, I have great confidence that we'll reach an agreement with the players association, both that it's safe to come back to work and work out the economic issues that need to be resolved."

Some of the league's marquee players in Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Bauer and Blake Snell have voiced strong opposition to the proposal, countering that players are assuming a massive health risk by playing while receiving a fraction of the salaries they agreed to back in March. 

There is a desire from both owners and players to resume baseball as soon as possible. The biggest difference remains in just how to do so efficiently.