MLB needs an umpire, someone who can come in and help owners and players come together and reach an agreement on how to get baseball back on the field and in front of fans.  So far, Commissioner Rob Manfred hasn’t been able to be the referee, as he has been back and forth on whether or not there will be an MLB season this year, but their latest offer revives some hope of movement.

As of Wednesday, it seemed like there was virtually no chance of baseball making a return at all.  Now, however, there might be a little bit of movement in a positive direction, although it is still way too early to call it.  At this point, the only thing that will guarantee the season has returned is when the bats start cracking and the balls start flying.

MLB Latest Offer to Clark

As desperation begins to set in, Manfred has apparently been willing to try to find a resolution.  He invited the head of the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), Tony Clark, to a one-on-one so the two could try to hash out their differences and get players back in action.  According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the two hooked up today and had a “productive” meeting in Arizona.

However, since productive could have various connotations (the meeting didn’t result in a fist-fight, the meeting found a resolution, etc.), there is still no definite progress being made for the return of MLB.

What is known, so far, about the meeting is that a new latest offer by MLB owners may now be in the works.  According to a tweet by Heyman, “Breaking: MLB and players union are closing in on an agreement to play the 2020 season, via players. Deal expected to be for prorated pay and include expanded playoffs.”   Even ESPN’s Jeff Passan is picking up the chatter, adding that there has yet to be a deal reached, but that the creation of a new proposal is “significant progress” in getting baseball going again.

Not So Fast

The Athletic’s Evan Drellich has taken a more pragmatic approach to the news, rightfully pointing out that the fact that talks have resumed doesn’t mean much.  The past month has included a lot of talk, yet no progress has been seen.

Drellich, wanting to keep everyone’s feet firmly on the ground, asserted on Twitter, “Source says no deal is close yet between MLB and MLBPA because the latest offer was just sent by MLB. No agreement even in principle at this point.”

What’s At Stake

One of the bones players have been picking with owners is the assertion that they stand to lose billions of dollars through games that are held in front of empty stands.  As a result, the owners want players to cover most of the losses, and have tried to get them to agree to take reductions in salary of up to 80%, depending on how much they make.

The MLBPA made it clear from the start that salary reductions were not on the table unless owners could demonstrably prove the level of losses they were asserting.  They still have not been able to support their case.

As a result, the MLBPA hasn’t been willing to listen to anything the owners put forward, and even Manfred has found himself on the receiving end of players’ wrath.  Some are calling for his ouster, complaining that he has shown, by appearing to side with owners, that he is more interested in the money than the players.

MLB just signed a massive broadcasting agreement with TBS worth $470 million a year.  It will commence with the 2022 season and is, through its length, a deal worth billions of dollars.  As a result, players are puzzled by the league’s assertion that money is going to be tight.  Even outspoken player agent Scott Boras chimed in, using a colorful metaphor to present his thoughts on the deal and the league’s priorities.

He states, “The TBS contract was the rectal thermometer.  It illustrated the truth to all the fans, and that is the content of this game has such value even in the heart of a pandemic that you get a record contract for your rights. When I say rectal thermometer, I say it as the truest form of the temperature of the game.”