"We hadn’t quite started our season yet and if we don’t play a season, the losses for the owners could approach $4 billion."
Manfred says he and his staff are working tirelessly to figure out a way to avoid that possibility ... revealing to Anderson Cooperthat they've come up with an 80-page protocol to keep players safe in a return scenario.
Manfred says the league is eyeing "frequent testing," quarantine plans for those who contract the virus and safety measurements like fan-less games to ensure players' health is the top priority if a comeback happens.
The problem? There's a disagreement right now between MLB owners and players over whether or not players should take a pay cut in a return to the diamond.
Rays ace Blake Snell blasted the notion this week ("For me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof") and several MLB stars have since backed the 27-year-old.
Phillies outfielderBryce Harpersaid on his Twitch stream Thursday, "He's speaking the truth, bro. I ain't mad at him."
Rockies megastar Nolan Arenado added, per The Athletic, "He made a lot of good points. There are some points he made that were true, that are facts."
Still, Manfred says he's optimistic they can all come to an agreement ... still eyeing "the first half of July" as a possible starting date for the '20 season.