As the Major League Baseball stalemate continues to drag on, commissioner Rob Manfred said it best.
‘‘This needs to be over,’’ he told USA Today on Thursday.
But with time running out, the bad blood between the sides continues to be evident.
After MLB owners proposed a 60-game season with full prorated pay for players Wednesday, the MLB Players Association countered with 70 games Thursday, a plan immediately rejected by Manfred.
There are many other issues at play as the sides slowly go about trying to negotiate an agreement that would start a season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, including a universal designated hitter and advertising on uniforms. On Thursday, though, a day after Manfred’s first actual sitdown with MLBPA chief Tony Clark, the union proposed a package that included 70 games.
The 10-game gap is significant, with owners sources telling USA Today the proposal would be swiftly rejected.
‘‘We delivered to Major League Baseball today a counterproposal based on a 70-game regular season, which, among a number of issues, includes expanded playoffs for both 2020 and 2021,’’ Clark said in a statement. ‘‘We believe this offer represents the basis for an agreement on resumption of play.’’
Clark issued a second statement about an hour and a half later disputing that an agreement had been made and that the union had gone back on its word after Manfred said Wednesday the sides had signed off on a ‘‘jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement.’’
‘‘In my discussions with Rob in Arizona, we explored a potential pro rata framework, but I made clear repeatedly in that meeting and after it that there were a number of significant issues with what he proposed, in particular the number of games,’’ Clark’s second statement said. ‘‘It is unequivocally false to suggest that any tentative agreement or other agreement was reached in that meeting. In fact, in conversations within the last 24 hours, Rob invited a counterproposal for more games that he would take back to the owners. We submitted that counterproposal today.’’
To that, Manfred countered: ‘‘I don’t know what Tony and I were doing there for several hours . . . making trades if we weren’t reaching an agreement.’’
Manfred said Wednesday the parties reached the framework of a deal on 60 games with full prorated pay for players. The union’s counterproposal of 70 games also included $33 million in upfront money players received before May 24, USA Today reported. The postseason would expand from 10 to 16 teams this season and next.
The sides are about $275 million apart on their offers. The salary difference between $1.48 billion for 60 games and $1.73 billion for 70 is $250 million, which amounts to a little more than about $8 million per team.
The other $25 million difference comes from the players’ postseason pool. MLB offered $25 million; the players are seeking $50 million.
Also as part of the union proposal, players would wear advertisement patches on their uniforms for the first time in history.
Both sides proposed starting the season July 19, but the union said it should end Sept. 30, three days later than management.
The union said pitchers and catchers should report for the resumption of spring training next Friday, followed two days later by position players.
The designated hitter, which has been used by the American League since 1973, would be used by both leagues for the next two seasons and, it stands to reason, beyond that.
Contributing: Associated Press