Well, that didn’t take long: after MLB presented a financial plan for the 2020 season that called for a truncated schedule and deep cuts in star player salaries, the MLBPA rejected it and will reportedly call for more games and no more additional cuts in player salaries.
Under the plan submitted by MLB, the highest-paid players in the sport could lose about 80 percent of their salaries while beginning the season in ballparks sans fans, while players making the least amount could keep up to 90 percent of their pay. In addition, the plan calls for a 21-day training camp and a season end of Sept. 27 — the same original ending date before the pandemic closed down the season. It was immediately criticized by players on both ends of the salary spectrum as being unreasonable, and after a conference call between members of MLBPA’s executive board and player reps, it was rejected:
— Max Scherzer (@Max_Scherzer) May 28, 2020
The union’s negotiating stance is that players already agreed to pay cuts in March based on a pro-rated basis. Teams say that agreement was based on anticipated revenue generated by fans returning to the ballparks, and without that assurance given there’s a really good chance we may see the entire 2020 MLB season and playoff held without fans / gate revenues, additional pay cuts are warranted.
And, in fact, it sounds like the MLBPA will counter the MLB proposal with a 100-game season and full prorated salaries, with the season pushed well into the fall. The problem with this plan: Many experts warn that we could see a second wave of COVID-19 positives in late November and December, and if that happens, the MLB playoffs could be canceled. While MLB could see a broadcast-revenue boost with a 14-team playoff scenario, that revenue boost could be wiped off if the playoffs and World Series are canceled because of that second wave. (It’s the same scenario colleges are using when planning their 2020 fall semesters: many schools are moving the first week of the fall semester to early August and then breaking at Thanksgiving.)
Agent Scott Boras is advising players to take a hard line on salaries in a memo sent to his clients:
“Remember, games cannot be played without you,” Boras wrote. “Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated.”…
“Owners are asking for more salary cuts to bail them out of the investment decisions they have made,” Boras said. “If this was just about baseball, playing games would give the owners enough money to pay the players their full prorated salaries and run the baseball organization. The owners’ current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks. This type of financing is allowed and encouraged by MLB because it has resulted in significant franchise valuations.”
“Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout,” he added. “They are not offering players a share of the stadiums, ballpark villages or the club itself, even though salary reductions would help owners pay for these valuable franchise assets. These billionaires want the money for free. No bank would do that. Banks demand loans be repaid with interest. Players should be entitled to the same respect.”
Not every player agrees with this strategy:
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
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