MLB has "discussed playing a shorter schedule in which it would pay members" of the MLBPA their "full prorated salaries," according to sources cited by Jeff Passan of ESPN.com. Sources said that although MLB "does not intend to propose this to the players, the possibility of implementing a schedule of around 50 games that would start in July has been considered by the league as a last resort in the event that the parties can't come to a deal." Players in an offer Sunday proposed a 114-game schedule that "would cover 70.3% of their original salaries." A 50-game schedule with "full pro rata would pay the players 30.8% of that number." Language in the March agreement "appears to give Commissioner Rob Manfred the right to deliver a season schedule after 'good faith' discussions between the league and the union." However, a shortened schedule "would run contrast to what the players sought in the proposal sent to the league Sunday" (ESPN.com, 6/1). In DC, Dave Sheinin writes the 50-to-60-game concept was "less a proposal than an assertion" by MLB that its March agreement with the MLBPA gave Manfred "wide powers to determine the length of the 2020 season absent further agreement with the union." It will "still take some negotiating to get to a deal" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/2).
NEGOTIATING TACTICS: THE ATHLETIC's Rosenthal & Drellich write from 10,000 feet, both sides "appear to be exercising basic powers they seemed to gain in their infamous March agreement." The league is saying “you can’t stop us from starting the season,” and the players are saying “you can’t make us take less pay.” For competitive reasons, the league "still would prefer a schedule that is longer than 50-odd games but believes fans would be happy to see baseball return in any form." Some sources on both sides "believe there is room to hammer out a deal that includes changes beyond this year by including protections for free agency this winter, or even a minimum payroll commitment for 2021." But negotiating such elements would "prolong the process, and neither side is moving expeditiously, making that approach unlikely" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/2).
MUCH AT STAKE: On Long Island, David Lennon writes the "only thing anyone truly wants to know is what this all means in terms of getting a deal done." In relation to last week's "bleak outlook, this has to count as progress, especially in the wake of the outlandish proposals that were swapped by the two sides." Lennon: "At least it feels as if we're not moving backward anymore, and that has to be encouraging, right?" (NEWSDAY, 6/2). In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes the players "must find a way to solution." Perhaps that is "playing chicken and getting the owners to pay them the full prorated share." But it "can't be misreading that, which leads to no games, which would mean no salary now and less in the future" (N.Y. POST, 6/2). In Boston, Peter Abraham writes if MLB "screws this up, 17 months will pass between the end of the 2019 World Series and the start of the 2021 season." That is a "long time for people to find something else to occupy their time." And they "will find something." MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark and Manfred "should not be foolish enough to assume that people will wait 17 months and come back out of blind loyalty" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/2).
FANS CAUGHT IN A PICKLE: In St. Louis, Cory Gunkel writes owners "will always have the public perception advantage in these types of negotiations, despite MLB players' historically strong labor power." The public would "rather let the guys worth billions upon billions of dollars use the guys worth substantially less as an easy scapegoat so that we can just bring baseball back already" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/2). In Houston, Brian Smith writes this is the "perfect time" for MLB to announce its return, but it is, of course, "blowing its perfect opportunity." The "childlike back-and-forth continues to insult a fan base that is waiting to hear three simple words: Baseball is back" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/2).