On Tuesday, the MLB owners submitted their first official economic proposal (even though it seems like the tenth since there has been two weeks of media leaks) to the MLB Players Association. It would call for hefty salary cuts based on a sliding scale, weighted heavier to the high-paid players. The union hated the proposal.
I don’t blame them. Even though I see faults in both sides, this proposal is so preposterous that it doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s almost as if the owners have an ulterior motive other than getting a deal done. It’s almost as if they rather have the players start arguing with each other and sounding-off to the public than getting back on the field.
Instant Negative Reaction
Within hours of receiving the proposal, players reacted publicly. In a statement, the PA said:
The proposal involves massive additional pay cuts and the union is extremely disappointed. We’re also far apart on health and safety protocols.
Check and check.
This season is not looking promising. Keeping the mind and body ready regardless. Time to dive into some life-after-baseball projects. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Brighter times remain ahead!
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) May 26, 2020
Over the past two weeks we’ve seen players voice their opinion on twitter and various other platforms. Blake Snell’s comments on twitch about wanting to get the money he’s owed went viral, but other players like Marcus Stroman have dropped tweets that are not promising.
The bottom line is the two sides are not close to an agreement on economics and health and safety protocols. Unfortunately it seems like they’re drifting further apart with each passing day.
No More Pay Cuts
Max Scherzer tweeted a statement on Wednesday night about the latest economic proposal. He is one of baseball’s highest-paid players, even though a large portion of his salary is deferred, so his pocket would be hit pretty hard.
— Max Scherzer (@Max_Scherzer) May 28, 2020
Scherzer says other players are sharing a similar viewpoint about not wanting to take another pay cut on top of the prorated salary based on number of games that the PA agreed to in March. If the Owners were hoping their percent-based salary cut proposal would trigger a counter, they might be dissappointed.
But Mad Max’s key point is this: “there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received.”
Owners have not (and apparently will not) open their books to the PA. They have only provided data during presentations that indicates they will lose a significant amount of money if games are played in front of no fans. The PA isn’t buying the data the owners are providing.
If the players do not trust the owners and the owners will not give up any more confidential info, are we at a stalemate?
The recent proposal is so heavily skewed to hurt the “rich” (the minority of players) and benefit the “poor” (the majority of players) that I believe the owners submitted it to create drama within the union. If it called for an even cut across the board — say, another 20% reduction for everyone — then I wouldn’t feel that way. But a player making under $1M would receive 72.5% of their salary whereas anyone making over $20M only gets 20%. The actual dollars lost for the Gerrit Cole and Mike Trout-type players is just too much for the union to look past.
While everyone will be hit, players on rookie deals making under $1M won’t have their bank accounts changed that much. Gleyber Torres, who was set to earn about $600K this year, is in a very different spot than Cole, who just signed the most expensive pitcher contract in history.
On top of that, you have the ever-outspoken Trevor Bauer sub-tweeting the most powerful agent in the game.
Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs. If true — and at this point, these are only rumors — I have one thing to say… Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) May 27, 2020
Scott Boras (who just signed Mr. “I need to gets mine” Blake Snell) represents the biggest players in baseball. Just this past offseason he signed the three largest free agent contracts (Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon). He makes an ungodly amount of money for his clients, which helps — not hurts — the Players Association.
Bauer isn’t like other players. He’s said publicly he will never sign a long-term contract. He was not afraid to call out Astros players for cheating. He routinely complains about things he doesn’t like on twitter.
I don’t know what “personal agenda” Bauer could be talking about, but I can’t imagine it’s anything that would support the owners and not the players. Maybe Bauer (and potentially other players) want to keep discussions internal and not involve an outsider like Boras — even if Boras can help.
What’s left to negotiate?
If the players aren’t budging off a prorated salary based on number of games and owners are calling for massive cuts, are we at a standstill?
What about the health and safety protocols? The 67-page document was apparently just a first draft, but the two sides still need to reach an agreement there (although I think that will be taken care of pretty quickly once the dollars and cents are sorted out).
Unclear if players will even counter MLB’s financial offer at this time (a few players suggested not necessarily) but in any case they will keep talking as players do intend to respond to MLB proposals on length of season/schedule and health/safety protocols. So there’s that.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 28, 2020
Heyman and others have reported that one bargaining chip the PA could still use is number of games. The current “plan” is for 82-games, but what if they stretch it to 100? In theory, players would receive more actual dollars in their pocket with more games played.
The problem is that MLB wants to have their season and playoffs done before a potential second wave of COVID. The worst thing for baseball would be if the league has to shutdown again before the playoffs are complete. With June rapidly approaching, there might not be enough time for 100-games and a normal playoff schedule.
But not everyone is doom-and-gloom. Old friend Andrew Miller is optimistic a deal will get done despite “daunting obstacles.”
'We won’t sacrifice our principles or what we believe is right and fair. I believe that despite the daunting obstacles we all face to have baseball this year, we will find a way to overcome them.' — #Cardinals LHP Andrew Millerhttps://t.co/7vlwJPaf2M #stlcards #MLB #MLBPA
— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) May 27, 2020