Who wins in MLB’s deal on pay and service time during play stoppage?

MLB and its players have agreed to a deal on pay and service time during play stoppage. Based on the reported details, it seems like a sensible solution for all parties.

MLB and its players have agreed to a deal on pay and service time during the league’s ongoing play stoppage, and MLB owners are expected to ratify it on Friday. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

According to Passan, MLB will advance its players $170 million in salary for April and May, and if the season has to be canceled, the players will keep that money. Another important caveat: If there is no 2020 season, the players will still get full service time, meaning guys like Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, J.T. Realmuto and others will still be free agents in November even if there are no games played.

Passan also reports that according to the agreed-upon deal, MLB could shorten the 2020 draft to five rounds, the 2021 draft to 20 rounds, delay the 2021 international signing period to as late as January 2021, and push back the  2021-22 international signing period to January 2022 through December 2022. Because of the shortened season (assuming it’s not canceled altogether), arbitration rules will also be tweaked:

According to The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal, the $170 million will be split among four tiers of players: those with guaranteed deals and those in three different levels of split contracts between the majors and minors. Salaries will be pro-rated based on the length of the season. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the $170 million will be kept if there is no season and repaid if there is one.

Finally, Heyman reports that in the event of a canceled season, the players’ service time in 2020 will be based on the number of games played in 2019.

With that massive information download out of the way, it’s hard to find too much fault in a deal like this. Novel coronavirus has put a halt on the United States’ economy, especially in the professional sports industry where every league of note has been canceled or postponed. It’s good to see that even in times of financial strife, MLB and the MLBPA were able to iron out a deal that makes sense for both sides.

For the players, it ensures they receive some compensation over the next few months, and they’ll get to keep that money if the season is shortened. It’s a small percentage of their normal salaries, but in times of uncertainty, it’s far better than nothing. The service time part of the agreement is particularly important from their perspective.

For the owners, this protects them from doling out $4.5 billion to players in the event of a canceled season. Rosenthal reports that players cannot sue for their full salaries as part of the agreement, and with all that in mind, $170 million sounds a lot more favorable.

Overall, this is a beneficial deal to everyone involved. Nobody is really a “winner” in such an unfortunate situation that the coronavirus has put the world in, but given the circumstances, this is about as good a deal as could be expected.

Next: Rob Manfred tries to paint rosy picture for MLB fans ahead of Opening Day

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