Rob Manfred Says MLB Will '100 Percent' Play in 2020 Despite Tense Negotiations

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2020, file photo, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions at a news conference during MLB baseball owners meetings in Orlando, Fla. Major League Baseball will cuts its amateur draft from 40 rounds to five this year, a move that figures to save teams about $30 million. Clubs gained the ability to reduce the draft as part of their March 26 agreement with the players’ association and MLB plans to finalize a decision next week to go with the minimum, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke Friday, May 8, 2020, on condition of anonymity because no decision was announced. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
John Raoux/Associated Press

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred left no doubt about the upcoming season. 

"We're going to play baseball in 2020, 100 percent," Manfred said Wednesday on MLB Network, via Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

Manfred also discussed the matter with ESPN's Karl Ravech:

His statement comes amid a tense negotiation between the league and the players association over the terms of beginning the 2020 campaign, which was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The best thing for our sport is to reach a negotiated agreement," the commissioner added.

MLB and the MLBPA had agreed upon prorated salaries during the initial delay in March, and players are trying to maintain this for a shortened season.

They most recently proposed an 89-game campaign with full prorated salaries, down from the 114 games of the previous offer, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.

Manfred said Wednesday the owners will make a counteroffer "in the players' direction" but said he wants the players to "get off the 100 percent salary demand," via Shaikin.

Meanwhile, at least one ownership source said an 89-game season would be a "waste of time," per Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic.

The latest offer from MLB's side was a 76-game season that features 75 percent of players' prorated salaries, per Passan.

The back-and-forth has been discouraging, especially when the June 1 soft deadline passed. That would have allowed the campaign to start July 4. However, the commissioner remains an optimist about the season eventually starting.

Manfred noted the league will "exercise that right" for a 48-game season if needed, per Passan.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the league can implement the shortened season without player approval.