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MLB, MLBPA leaders rekindle talks for possible 2020 season

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred Jr. speaks at a press conference on youth initiatives hosted by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association at Citi Field on Thursday, June 16, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred Jr. speaks at a press conference on youth initiatives hosted by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association at Citi Field on Thursday, June 16, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Optimism abounds that MLB and the MLBPA will now finally get a deal done.

It’s the storyline that just won’t quit. Will they or won’t they? MLB and the MLBPA have been doing this dance for weeks, trading public barbs and half-baked offers in a fruitless attempt to have some semblance of a 2020 season. But they’ve now taken the biggest step forward of this whole maddening process.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA chief Tony Clark actually met in person on Tuesday after Manfred flew out to Arizona. This comes on the heels of Manfred’s incredible statement that he was “not confident” that there would be a season at all. Looks like he finally decided to start making some real progress.

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The meeting apparently ended with MLB making an offer of a 60-game season with the players getting their full prorated salaries. This proposed season would begin July 19 and give each team 10 off days. It would include an expanded postseason, though the players would waive their right to file a grievance.

Unlike any of its previous offers, MLB’s willingness to guarantee players their full prorated salaries is a huge step forward. That was an issue the MLBPA wasn’t going to budge on, so it’s nice to see Manfred recognize reality. The players will probably counter in an attempt to tack on some more games, but I would expect a final deal to be for 65-70 games. If they do make a deal, the players would probably be fine with waiving their right to file a grievance.

As for the timing, hopefully a deal can come together within a week. That would give the players enough time to have a Spring Training-esque ramp-up to the official start date, and it would allow the regular season to conclude in time for the playoffs to begin as scheduled.

I’ve been plenty critical of both sides over this issue, and I stand by my belief that Manfred is bungling everything. But it’s nice to see some actual, substantive progress taking place. Hopefully this framework will serve as a way for the two sides to finally come to a deal.

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