Tagged in: Rob Manfred

Owners approve MLB season proposal, plan for July start

Major League Baseball owners accepted a proposal that commissioner Rob Manfred plans to present to players Tuesday on a return-to-play scenario that aims to have baseball back in home stadiums by early July, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

The meeting between MLB and the MLB Players Association on Tuesday will set the stage for what both parties expect to be a contentious negotiation.

Although MLB could benefit long-term from being the first American team sport to return amid the coronavirus pandemic, the logistics of beginning the season remain convoluted and require player support. Money is at the heart of the return, sources said.

Owners, fearful of deep financial losses with fan-free stadiums, agreed in a conference call Monday afternoon to a plan that includes a 50-50 revenue split with the players, sources told ESPN.

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Concerns about the league’s handling of testing and ensuring as safe a working environment as possible will be an issue broached by players on Tuesday and in the coming days, sources told ESPN.

Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle took to social media Monday to set that table.

As the sides are negotiating, the league will continue to seek consent from governmental entities and support from the medical community for a potential return.

The season could begin Fourth of July weekend, with games around the country in home stadiums. The intra-division-heavy schedule would be to limit travel, with teams possibly traveling by bus to nearby cities.

If any ballpark is not available because state or local officials have not approved the resumption of play, Manfred has told owners that he is prepared to move that team to another city to play home games, a team owner and a team president told ESPN.

Spring training likely would not include any matches, and teams could get ready for the season at their home stadiums. The 50 players available would be a mixture of major leaguers and top minor league players, with the minor league season in jeopardy.

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MLB can layoff coaches, managers starting May 1

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has made a move that permits teams to lay off or cut the pay of major and minor league managers, coaches, trainers and full-time scouts beginning May 1.

Manfred has suspended uniform employee contracts that cover about 9,000 people, including general managers on some teams. Manfred cited the inability to play games due to the national emergency caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.

”Our clubs rely heavily on revenue from tickets/concessions, broadcasting/media, licensing and sponsorships to pay salaries,” Manfred wrote in an email Monday, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. ”In the absence of games, these revenue streams will be lost or substantially reduced, and clubs will not have sufficient funds to meet their financial obligations.”

”The impact of the suspension of the UEC on your personal employment situation will be determined by your club,” Manfred stated.

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Arizona, Atlanta, Boston, the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, Minnesota, the New York Yankees, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Toronto are among the teams that have committed to paying full-time employees through May, and Miami will pay full-time baseball operations staff through the month.

The Cubs will pay those on UECs and front-office staff through their May 29 paychecks, and Detroit said it has no plans for layoffs or furloughs.

Major League Rule 3(i) demands that UECs must be signed by all managers, coaches, trainers and salaried scouts, and some teams include additional baseball operations staff.

”Pursuant to the terms of the UEC, the club’s exclusive right to your services will remain in effect during the period of the suspension such that you will not be permitted to perform services for any other club,” Manfred wrote. ”I fully recognize the hardship that this health crisis creates for all members of the baseball community. Central baseball and the clubs are doing everything possible to try to minimize this impact for as many employees as possible.”

Manfred stated the Baseball Assistance Team charitable organization ”is available to consider grant applications on an expedited basis for those facing significant and immediate financial hardship.”

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MLB suspends spring training, delays Opening Day at least two weeks

Major League Baseball is delaying the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the league informed Thursday.

MLB also said in a statement that spring training matches have been suspended, starting at 4 p.m. ET Thursday.

Commissioner Rob Manfred and the league’s owners held a conference call Thursday afternoon to formalize the plan.

“MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible,” MLB stated.

The announcement came while some spring training games in Florida were still in progress. MLB followed the NBA, NHL, MLS and college basketball tournaments in altering schedules due to the pandemic.

MLB had been scheduled to open its season March 26, with all 30 teams in action. Manfred left open whether each team still would play 162 matches.

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Players had been awaiting a decision.

On Thursday, before the announcement, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price walked into the team’s facility and said: “It’s gotta happen. This is so much bigger than sports. I’ve got two kids.”

Multiple teams had already pulled scouts off the road and sent them home because of coronavirus concerns, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Others have canceled all travel.

Shortly after MLB announced its decision to delay the start of its regular campaign, Minor League Baseball followed suit. In a statement, MILB announced, “After consultation with medical professionals and our partners at Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball will delay the start of the 2020 Championship Season.” The minor league season was scheduled to start on April 9.

Additionally, qualifying in Arizona for this year’s Olympic baseball tournament and for next year’s World Baseball Classic have been delayed.

The major leagues have not had a mass postponement of openers since 1995, when the campaign was shortened from 162 games to 144 following a 7½-month strike that also wiped out the 1994 World Series. Opening Day was pushed back from April 2 to April 26.

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