Here it is – the Heyman hydrogen-bomb every baseball fan is talking about:
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.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 17, 2020
Jon Heyman from MLB Network with the Heyman hydrogen bomb!! Is that a phrase for when he drops major news? It should be!
On the surface, it sure sounds like promising news, but really what does it mean? Nothing! Nothing until we have a concrete agreement, without any wiggle room for MLB owners to back out and continue their little charade.
Why such a reaction?
Totally a surprising report to see today, as breaking news often is. Earlier today, the lows of MLB shenanigans seemed to reach a new level, with reports of teams attempting to sign some draftees to contracts beginning in 2021… for 8 total years of control! Absolutely bananas to hear that.
A quick tangent on that note. Baseball players have harshest team control terms in sports. One could anticipate team control to be vastly different when the players union negotiates a new CBA for 2022. Perhaps an NBA-style restricted free agency period will be part of baseball in the near future. Allowing players to negotiate with other teams early on in their careers and see how much their skills are worth on a restricted market. Teams are still able to retain players by matching any contract offer extended.
But, to bring it back – after weeks of waiting for an impending deal, Rob Manfred flipped his positivity on us. His chances of MLB playing in 2020 went from 100%, to not 100%. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a COVID-19 related development, just MLB and owners posturing and trying to affix blame onto the players. So, after a short period of time since Manfred went back on his 100% promise/remark, a deal is close? That’s as unexpected as it gets!
Any idea on the terms of the ‘deal’ / MLB’s proposal?
Not a ton out there, but as I write this blog, more and more is coming out. Buster Olney of ESPN just put out this as the latest:
Sources: The owners' latest offer to the PA is for 60 games, full pro-rata, starting July 19.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 17, 2020
Ken Rosenthal with a similar tweet, but I liked the wording and context presented by Jeff Passan a little more.
The MLB proposal to the MLBPA, as @Ken_Rosenthal said, is for a 60-game season that ends around Sept. 27 and gives players fully prorated salaries. It would have expanded playoffs and would include waiving of right to grieve by the union.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 17, 2020
60 games, full pro-rata, 7/19 start date. Not great, but not awful. At least we’re beyond the 40-game range being part of MLB’s proposal for way too long of a period. Can’t say I’m expecting players to bite immediately on this, though. A full pro-rated 80-something game season still seems like the ideal sweet spot for players to leave the table relatively satisfied, but we’ll see.
How close is a deal, actually?
So reports say that MLBPA President Tony Clark and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred met this morning and had a ‘productive meeting’.
Breaking: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and players union chief Tony Clark had what’s being called a productive meeting face to face in Arizona. Meeting was called at Manfred’s request
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 17, 2020
What does productive mean, many wondered at about 1:34 PM EST. Well, safe to say that being close to an agreement would fit the bill here.
What are other MLB reporters saying?
Well, Evan Drellich of The Athletic has seemed to contradict Heyman’s breaking news and dosed out a sobering perspective for giddy fans. For what it’s worth, Drellich’s tweet has been retweeted by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Source says no deal is close yet between MLB and MLBPA beccause the proposal was just sent by MLB. No agreement even in principle at this point.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 17, 2020
Here’s an interesting edit to Heyman’s (in)famous twitter avatar bitmoji created by a Reddit user (u/HookersForDahl2017). This could certainly regain relevance quickly, should his report be off:
Twitter today has had some interesting dialogue between reporters, building on their respective sources and takes on the negotiation. Certainly a refreshing change of pace after a long stretch of underwhelming news on the disparity in negotiations between players and owners.
One aspect that may be overlooked by many is the logistics of a certain number of games to be played. Jayson Stark puts it well here, breaking down why 66 games might be ideal (assuming they end up in that 60ish range).
Since Ken reworded his tweet, let's do this one more time…
Here's why 66 games works:
*12 games each vs 4 division opponents
*3 games each vs 4 interleague opponents
*6 games (home and home) vs interleague rival https://t.co/bbTAb5t7y0
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) June 17, 2020
As quoted above, it seems that Ken Rosenthal believes the players union will counter MLB’s proposal.
One more time: Union would figure to counter, perhaps with goal of settling at 65 games. With full pro-rated salaries, that number would get players ~40 percent of their original projected earnings for 2020. Per @JaysonSt, 66 games might work best for scheduling purposes. https://t.co/Dyu3JqNCdg
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 17, 2020
Any other random reports out there?
In one of the most bizarre turn of events, Senator Marco Rubio has taken to twitter following his conversation with Rob Manfred. Don’t think a single person in the world woke up this morning hoping they’d see a Marco Rubio tweet that made them feel better about a potential MLB season happening. But the year is 2020, so here we are!
Just spoke with @MLB Commissioner
America really needs some unifying common experiences right now,not to distract us from our challenges,but to remind us of the things we have in common
Baseball can help fill that void & I am cautiously optimistic we will #playball very soon
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 17, 2020
What should we make of all this?
Hold your horses, because a deal is not done yet. BUT – I’m not going to dismiss Heyman’s word and source on this. One part of Drellich’s retort to the Heyman hype is that it appears MLB just sent the proposal to MLBPA a short while ago. That can be true, as could Heyman’s report that an agreement is close! Perhaps the meeting this morning hashed out enough of issues to bring forth enough momentum that a deal feels imminent?
Truthfully, this is a mess. This feels like the millionth time baseball fans have been toyed with by reports and rumors. Fans are the proverbial child stuck in the middle of a parental disagreement. Both sides are feeding information, some almost entirely false, some mainly truthful. It’s become more and more difficult to sort through the fluff and make sense of MLB’s return in 2020. Do the owners even want this? It seems the potential billion-dollar grievance from the players union is a daunting reality for owners. Pretty sad that’s what it took for owners of baseball teams, who one would assume, enjoy and love the game, to actually play ball in negotiations.
All that sadness aside, baseball twitter feels hopeful for the first time in a while.
What do I do? How should I feel?
Do and feel what you want, but personally, I’m holding off any real reaction. Heyman deserves our trust, and it feels wrong to write off his report. At the moment, all we can do is stay strong and prepare another KBO Draftkings lineup to offset the pain.
For now, I’ll monitor twitter like a psycho ex, and hold any celebrating until I see players posting gifs. BUT – when those gifs start rolling in, all hell will break loose.
-Mike Gilligan (@BigGilli, @VerbalCommitPod and @SmallStateTakes Podcast) – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/small-state-big-takes/id1432138166 / https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/verbally-committed/id1516871465