With Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association negotiating return-to-play scenarios, an 82-game season, a 114-game season, and a 50-game season have reportedly been floated.
Of those three, which is most likely? Or is at least closest to what the final number will be?
“I think the 82 games will be [closest],” MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said on Tiki & Tierney. “That said, I don’t think that sliding scale is going to work. I do think that concept makes some sense, but the pay cuts were just way too drastic for the players. I think they need to negotiate that.”
As for the 50-game scenario, Heyman doesn’t put much stock in it.
“The 50 games, I think, is a negotiating tactic,” he said. “Just saying we can start at 40 or 50 games, that would result in an absolute war. The players obviously do not want to come back and play for less than one-third of their pay if it’s 50 games. I just don’t think he would do that. I think Rob Manfred is understanding that he needs the players, he needs to work with the players, the players are the game, and they need to work it out.”
Manfred, 62, has at least one thing going for him: he has worked for MLB for over 20 years, and there has never been a work stoppage on his watch.
“I think his track record suggests they will get it done,” Heyman said. “The owners may not be thrilled. In the end, they’re going to lose money. If they cancel the season, they’re going to lose a ton of money. If they play and pay [the players] a reasonable rate, they’re still going to lose a lot of money. But for the good of the game, I think most of them understand that they need to play.”
While some owners are reportedly open to canceling the 2020 season, Heyman believes that is a small minority.
“I bet there’s one or two or three that feel that way, but it would take eight to feel that way for the season to end,” he said. “I do think the vast majority of owners want to play and they have to know they’re going to lose money either way. That’s just the way it goes. It’s a pandemic. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, hopefully.”
Ultimately, Heyman believes there will be baseball in 2020.
“I believe they will figure it out – someway, somehow – because they know the alternative is terrible for the game,” he said. “You got to play, and they understand that. That said, we know there hasn’t been any progress to this point, and that’s a little disappointing.”