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MLB, players union inching toward deal

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The two warring factions in the ongoing dispute between Major League Baseball and its players appear to be making progress on a plan to save what’s left of the 2020 season.

According to several reports Wednesday, Commissioner Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, head of the MLB players union, had productive meetings that laid the groundwork for a possible settlement.

According to Ken Rosenthal, MLB’s proposal to the union calls for a 60-game season that would run through the last week in September, with players earning their full prorated salaries. The season would end with an expanded playoff format, and players would waive the right to file a grievance.

Rosenthal tweeted that the season would get underway in about a month – July 19 or 20.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said the two sides were “closing in on” an agreement, but others said that was a mischaracterization of the situation.

Either way, Wednesday afternoon’s news was the first positive signs in weeks that the 2020 season might be salvaged – at least to a degree.

Manfred released a statement Wednesday saying that he and Clark left a meeting Tuesday “with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents. I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary [Wednesday]. Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same.”

On the local front, the Pirates apparently have added a pair of arms to their arsenal in the form of a highly regarded draft pick and an undrafted free agent.

Several outlets have reported that the Bucs have come to terms with Jared Jones, convincing their second-round draft pick to start his professional career rather than follow through with his commitment to the University of Texas.

The club has not yet officially announced the signing because the Southern California product, who was taken 44th overall, has yet to complete a post-draft physical. However, it’s unlikely – based on comments club officials have made about the “signability” of drafted players – that anything will go sideways with the Jones signing.

The second arm added to the fold belongs to Parker Brahms, yet another right-hander, who is the club’s first undrafted free agent signing. Brahms’ signing was announced on the Sacramento State baseball twitter account and reported by several others.

The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Brahms, a 27th-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Dodgers a year ago, turned 22 in December. He spent four years pitching for Sacramento State and this past year he went 2-1 with a 1.14 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out 32.

In Brahms’ first two years as a Hornet, he compiled a 12-9 record with a 2.78 ERA in 191 innings of work. His numbers dipped as a junior, though, as he went 4-4 with a 4.70 ERA and yielded 11 home runs in 76 2/3 innings after giving up a combined 10 home runs in his first two seasons.

Jones, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-hander, will turn 19 in August and just graduated from La Mirada High School. He was ranked the 41st best prospect in the draft according to Baseball America, and that publication said Jones “dominates with his fastball, but he flashes a sharp, above-average slider in the mid-80s and is developing his changeup.”

Jones also played the outfield as a prep but the Pirates are focusing on his pitching potential.