Of the four major professional sports in the United States, Major League Baseball is dealing with COVID-19 complications the worst. But progress might be on the horizon; with team owners reportedly willing to pay the full prorated salaries agreed to on March 26.
On May 12 the league offered the players a deal to begin the regular season in July; but with the players taking in some cases massive pay cuts. The MLBPA swiftly and firmly rejected the proposal. The two sides appeared far apart in multiple areas. Especially important however is the gap between expectations of financial compensation and safety protocols.
On Sunday the MLBPA responded with a season proposal of their own; upping the game total to 114 and asking for the full prorated pay originally agreed to. They also demanded any player that wished to opt-out of playing as players; with those deemed high-risk to get salary and all others credit for a year played.
If neither side could agree to a deal, commissioner Rob Manfred could unilaterally install a regular season of any length; thanks to the March 26 agreement over prorated salaries. In this eventuality, the players would receive their full prorated dues; but this was not a popular outcome for either side.
But on Monday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported what might be some actual progress.
After murmurs last week that some owner’s were content to miss the season entirely; owners apparently are willing to honor the original deal struck between the sides in March. If this is true; players will receive a prorated salary based on their normal salary and how many games are played this year.
“Major League Baseball intends to propose a shorter season in which they would pay players a full prorated share of their salaries, sources told ESPN,” he wrote.
“The league believes the late March agreement allows it to set the schedule, and that this would fulfill players’ pro rata desire.”
Passan went on to explain that MLB would likely in this case aim for a shorter season, maybe as short as only 50 games; and use the fact they are paying the amount agreed to in March as leverage. While the move has the potential to work out in the owner’s favor financially, it also is an encouraging sign that compromise isn’t impossible.
When MLB made its first season proposal official; there was widespread disapproval amongst the players, but the criticism started even before the first formal offer.
Tampa Bay Rays star Blake Snell spoke on the issue of payment via his Twitch while isolating in his home on May 14.
“Y’all gotta understand, man, for me to go — for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof,” he said speaking of a taking a second cut. “And that’s just the way it is for me. Like, I’m sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I’m making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?”
Three time Cy Young winner and reigning World Series champion with the Washington Nationals Max Scherzer also expressed his displeasure on his Twitter.
“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.”