New York Yankees President Randy Levine is calling for Major League Baseball's players and owners to come back to the negotiating table to strike an agreement to start the 2020 season.
Levin said Tuesday that health and safety of players and team personnel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, not player salaries, was the primary obstacle between the two parties coming to an agreement.
The start of the MLB's regular season in late-March was called off due to the novel coronavirus threat. A resulting labor dispute over details of a shortened season has the two sides at an impasse.
Levin said he believes the two sides are closer to an agreement than it appears. He called on the players and commissioner to honor the promises to negotiate that they made in March.
"Everyone here wants to get down to business as soon as possible and play games. From what I've discovered, the holdup is not about the number of games or money at this time," he said. "The commissioner has the right under the March agreement [with the players] to schedule games as long as the players are paid 100 percent prorated. The holdup, as I understand it, is about resolving the other items in the March 26 agreement."
Those other items include health and safety protocols, what happens if the season is interrupted by a second wave of COVID-19 and contractual issues about "which players can opt out [of the season] and under what circumstances can they, and a host of issues like that."
The latest of the MLB's three proposals calls for a 72-game season, starting July 14 that would guarantee about $1.23 billion of salaries that originally totaled about $4 billion for the 2020 season. If the postseason is completed, the guaranteed salaries will increase to $1.45 billion.
The players' union offered two proposals, including one for an 89-game season, beginning July 10 and guaranteed salaries of $2.25 billion.
The two sides have negotiated via video conferences but not met in person since March 14.
Both sides have exchanged letters in the last week that appear as though they are primed for litigation.
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