Rob Manfred is certain that Major League Baseball will take place this summer, but is hopeful that it will come as the result of a negotiated agreement with the MLB Players Association, a circumstance that feels unlikely in the midst of contentious, seemingly unproductive negotiations over the last few weeks.
Manfred, in his sixth year as MLB's commissioner, said in an interview with ESPN broadcaster Karl Ravech on Wednesday that the league will soon provide a "responsive proposal" to the latest offer from the MLBPA, which consisted of an 89-game season and full pro-rated salaries, and that he's "100%" sure there will be a season.
Manfred, speaking a little less than an hour before the start of a five-round draft, said the league's proposal will be "another significant move in the players' direction in terms of the salary that has kept us apart."
Players remain strident in their belief that they are owed their full pro-rated salaries based on an agreement made by both sides in March, while owners say the reality of hosting games with no fans means significant enough losses to warrant more financial concessions from players.
If the two sides can't come to an agreement, Manfred has the autonomy to implement a shorter season -- it would reportedly consist of 48 games -- so long as the players get their full pro-rated salaries. If that ends up being the case, sources have said, the MLBPA would likely then not agree to an expanded postseason and might even file a grievance.
Manfred told Ravech that he would prefer to negotiate a new agreement that gets the sport more games, but also said the 89-game proposal is "not realistic." MLB doesn't want the regular season to extend beyond September in order to guard against a potential second wave of the coronavirus and ensure that the postseason -- a crucial revenue generator because of the television money it will bring in -- is played.
"I can tell you, unequivocally, that we will play baseball this season," Manfred said.