MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN on Monday that he's "not confident" there will be a baseball season this year, adding that "as long as there's no dialogue" with the MLB Players Association there is a "real risk" of no 2020 season.
Manfred's comments Monday to ESPN's Mike Greenberg, are distinctly different from the comments he made to ESPN's Karl Ravech last Wednesday ahead of the 2020 MLB draft. Manfred told Ravech last week that, "unequivocally we are going to play Major League Baseball this year."
However, when asked Monday about his confidence level, Manfred said, "I'm not confident. I think there's real risk; and as long as there's no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue."
MLBPA executive Tony Clark called Manfred's comments "another bad faith tactic in [MLB's] ongoing campaign."
Over the weekend, the MLBPA rejected MLB's most recent proposal for a possible season and said it does not plan to submit a counter offer.
The decision by the Players Association came one day after MLB submitted its latest proposal, which included a 72-game season to begin on July 14 with 70% prorated salaries for the regular season and 80% if the postseason is completed. ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Saturday that the MLBPA asked MLB to provide information as to how the season would proceed if one were to take place this year.
Manfred told ESPN Monday the MLBPA's "decision to end good-faith negotiations" were "really negative in terms of our efforts."
"The owners are a hundred percent committed to getting baseball back on the field," Manfred said. "Unfortunately, I can't tell you that I'm a hundred percent certain that's gonna happen."
According to the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin, MLB told the MLBPA Monday there would be no 2020 season unless the players waived any legal claims against the league.
In March, the two sides reached an agreement that would prorate player salaries based on the number of games played. However, the players have fought back since MLB owners proposed splitting all revenue for the 2020 season 50-50 between the owners and the players.
The league initially set its sights on returning in time for July 4, but that timeline stalled while MLB and the MLBPA negotiated for weeks to reach a possible deal on starting the season.
"It's just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it," Manfred told ESPN. "It shouldn't be happening, and it's important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans."