Morning Chronicle - MLB boss hopeful but says missed games 'disastrous'

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MLB boss hopeful but says missed games 'disastrous'
MLB boss hopeful but says missed games 'disastrous'

MLB boss hopeful but says missed games 'disastrous'

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that missed 2022 games would be a "disastrous outcome" to an ongoing money dispute with players but he remains hopeful of a deal.

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Manfred, speaking at a meeting of club owners in Orlando, said MLB plans to resume negotiations on Saturday with a new proposal to players, who were locked out by owners in December after their old collective bargaining agreement expired.

"I see missing games as a disastrous outcome for this industry and we're comitted to making an agreement in an effort to avoid that," Manfred said.

MLB team training camps are set to begin next week with the first pre-season contests still planned for February 26 and Manfred saying he is optimistic the regular season will begin as scheduled on March 31.

"I am an optimist," Manfred said. "I believe we will have an agreement in time to play our regular schedule."

Manfred said there is "no change right now" in training camp plans but the calendar will be a topic of conversation with the MLB Players Association in their fifth session since the lockout began December 2.

"We're going to make a good faith, positive proposal in an effort to move the process forward," Manfred said. "It's a good proposal."

Manfred said the league and union share the goal of paying younger players more money earlier in their careers, but the method has been a topic of major disagreement and the levels of a financial bonus pool have been widely different.

"We have moved toward the players on key areas in an effort to address their concerns," Manfred said.

Owners want expanded playoffs and to use designated hitters to bat for pitchers in the National League, as is now done in the American League.

"In total, the proposals we made would move the agreement decidedly in the players' direction," Manfred said.

The union has been steadfast on wanting players to become eligible for contract arbitration after two years and a reduction in revenue sharing, seen by players as acting as a limitation to maximum salaries for top talent.

Manfred says reduced revenue sharing would destroy competitive balance that allows teams from smaller markets to compete with clubs in New York and Los Angeles. Players say they shouldn't lose money so club owners don't overspend or underspend on salaries.

"Changing the current agreement by taking resources from clubs with relatively limited revenue will make the game less competitive," Manfred said.

The current 70-day shutdown marks the second-longest in MLB history behind the epic dispute that wiped out the 1994 World Series and was not settled until the 1995 season was shortened.

It's expected a deal must be reached by early next month in order for the 2022 campaign to begin as scheduled.