Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have reengaged in talks are working on a deal to begin the 2020 season. While that's good news for fans, an agreement wouldn't do much to quell the labor unrest the sport has been experiencing for years.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred met with Tony Clark, the head of the players union, for several hours on Tuesday. They discussed a framework for a potential 2020 season and how to get past the issues both sides are having. The owners made an offer of 60 games, with full prorated salaries for the players and expanded playoffs in both 2020 and 2021. The players would also have to waive their right to file a grievance against the owners.
While it's not a done deal and the players will certainly make a counteroffer, this is a start with the two sides actually talking. Frankly, this should have been done long ago. The fact that Manfred didn't insist on direct negotiations with Clark weeks ago is an indictment of his fitness to be commissioner.
For the first time in a while, it looks like we might actually get baseball this year. Unfortunately a deal like this won't do much to bring the owners and players closer together in the long run. We're still almost certain to be looking down the barrel of a work stoppage when the current collective bargaining agreement runs out on December 1, 2021.
For years the owners have been reaping record profits while payrolls have remained stagnant or dropped. The top players have seen their salaries increase -- which will always happen -- while the middle tier of veterans have found it much more difficult to get paid. The players union wants that to change.
On the flip-side, the owners have been slowly advocating for a salary cap and some form of revenue sharing. Each of those ideas is a nonstarter for the players. As you can see, each side's idea of what's wrong with baseball is completely at odds with the other.
So what's going to happen? No one knows. The two sides really don't like each other and it has only gotten worse over time. It's also clear the players loathe Manfred. Both sides are entrenched and the more dug in they are the uglier this will get. As of now, it's looking like the Western Front circa 1915.
A 2020 season might help ease some tension in the near-term but, if anything, this entire process has made the situation much worse in the long-term.