In less time than it takes to get through half a baseball game, it went from looking like plans to start the 2020 MLB season were imminent – to once again being uncertain – to back to being forthcoming.
About 40 minutes after reports surfaced on Wednesday that MLB and the players union were closing in on an agreement to play, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) shot down the rumours.
"Reports of an agreement are false," read a statement from MLBPA Communications.
A 60-game season with fully prorated salaries began being published on Twitter in response to a reportedly productive meeting between commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on Tuesday.
While the MLBPA refuted that an agreement was looming, Manfred replied to their tweet about 50 minutes later implying the sides were nearing a deal.
"At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix," Manfred said in a statement. "We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents.
"I summarised that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today. Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same."
Manfred met with Clark at his home in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday to restart negotiation talks a day after the two butted heads.
Manfred spoke via ESPN's 'The Return of Sports' on Monday about the 2020 season and sparked controversy when he said: "I'm not confident. I think there's real risk; and as long as there's no dialogue, that real risk is going to continue.
"The owners are 100 per cent committed to getting baseball back on the field. Unfortunately, I can't tell you that I'm 100 per cent certain that's going to happen."
His comments came a week after he said: "I can tell you unequivocally we are going to play Major League Baseball this year."
Responding to Manfred's comments on Monday, Clark said in a statement: "Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told players and fans that there would '100 per cent' be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season."
The league's latest offer came on Friday, proposing a 72-game season that would pay players between 70 and 83 per cent of their prorated salaries. This came after the sides reached a deal on March 26 in which players agreed to prorated salaries.
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