NEW YORK — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says there is “100%” chance of big league ball this year.
Major League Baseball will make another proposal to start the pandemic-delayed season, but Manfred vowed Wednesday to unilaterally order opening day if an agreement is not reached.
The players’ association made its second proposal Tuesday, asking for an 89-game regular season and 100% of prorated salaries. MLB’s plan a day earlier was for a 76-game season, would guarantee 50% of prorated salaries and hinge 25% in additional money on the postseason’s completion.
MLB has threatened a shorter schedule if players insist on 100% of their prorated salaries. The union likely would file a grievance, contending a longer schedule was economically feasible and asking arbitrator Mark Irvings to award damages.
There has not been a big league schedule of fewer than 80 games since 1879. Both MLB and the union have proposed expanding the playoffs from 10 teams to as many as 16 this year and next, but that enlarged postseason is contingent on a deal.
“I would prefer to negotiate a new agreement with the MLBPA that gets us more games and resolves the issues that have separated us amicably,” Manfred said Wednesday on an interview with ESPN before that network’s coverage of the amateur draft. “But at the end of the day, we negotiated for the right in March to start the season on a number of games that we select in these particular circumstances. And if we have to, we’ll exercise that right.”
Manfred insisted the chance of playing this year was “100%.” He wouldn’t say when he would order a shorter schedule.
“Each and every day that goes by, we lose the capacity to play at least one game, and that’s really the time pressure that’s significant at this point in time,” he said.
The players’ association declined to comment on Manfred’s remarks.