MLB tells players they want a shorter season in return for paying prorated salaries.
Major League Baseball owners are prepared to make a major concession to the players in order to start the 2020 season, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Monday.
The owners are dropping their demand that the players take a second pay cut and instead have agreed to pay prorated salaries as stipulated by the March agreement. In return, the league is proposing that the season be shorter than the players have asked for, somewhere around 50-60 games, according to Passan.
The league and players have been deadlocked over the issue of salaries in a truncated season as they attempt to negotiate a deal. The owners originally proposed a sliding scale of pay cuts, with the highest-paid players taking a bigger financial hit. Under this plan, a player like Mike Trout, whose contract is for $37.6 million in 2020, would only receive around $5.6 million.
The players balked at this idea. Last week Max Scherzer, a key figure in the MLBPA, released a statement that the players would not agree to take another pay cut. “After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received,” he wrote in a Twitter post on May 27.
The MLBPA released their own proposal on Sunday. That plan calls for a 114-game season with prorated salaries, with $100 million deferred until 2021 in the event the postseason is canceled. They contend that the issue of salaries was already negotiated in March and is not up to further discussion; the owners believe that agreement was predicated on playing with fans in the stands.
Owners have said that paying prorated salaries without the ability to sell tickets would cost them upwards of $640,000 per game. Some owners have even said they would lose more money playing in 2020 than if the season was canceled entirely.
In order to save money, clubs have begun releasing minor league players and stopping the payment of their monthly stipends. David Price of the Dodgers and the Nationals’ Sean Doolittle said they would step in to pay the minor leaguers; the Nationals eventually reversed course and said the club would continue to pay them.
A 50-60 game season would be the shortest the league has ever held. Even during the strike year of 1994, every team played at least 112 games; in 1981, they played at least 102 games.
But at least it would be better than zero. The two sides now appear ready to make concessions to each other to bring baseball back, and that’s the best news that’s come out of the negotiations yet.