Major League Baseball offered the latest possible model for a 2020 season on Monday; featuring a 76-game season and additional payouts for players. The league offered 75 percent of a prorated salary a no draft pick compensation for losses in free agency.
While the league didn’t offer a 50-game schedule as some rumors indicated they might; ESPN’s insiders don’t believe the latest offer will do much to bring either side together but might not be totally useless.
“This does appear to me to be a very small step toward the players, so hopefully it is viewed as just another proposal, one that merits a response, and not another talking point for more empty media statements and social media blathering.”
The Sticking Point
The major sticking point between the feuding sides is the matter of player compensation in an unprecedented season.
On the one hand, there will be fewer games and revenue will drop sigificantly without fans attending contests. Further, despite making a fraction of current contracts under most MLB proposed plans; these are still professional athletes making between six and eight figures regardless.
While these are all cards the owners have played to lobby for reduced player salaries in 2020; the MLBPA has some powerful ammunition of its own.
For one, they’ve already agreed to a pay cut. Once COVID-19 led to the suspension of baseball (and basically all other) operations in March; MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a deal that would pay player’s four percent of their salaries if no season happened and would prorate their salary for however many games ended up getting played. While the player’s sympathized with owners’ plight somewhat at the time; they also feel it is enough of a concession on their part.
These owners are billionaires and besides, the player’s don’t get pay bumps because hot dog or jersey sales are up in good seasons. These clashing philosophies have led to some bitter negotiations between the two sides so far.
While rumors flew about in the two months between the first agreement between the MLB and MLBPA, no official talks about commencing the season began until May 11.
MLB made its first proposal to the players with an 82-game season; but with pay cuts so massive the MLBPA outright rejected the deal. The owners asked for a 50-50 spilt of the revenue in a year they claimed would reach $640,000 per game played without fans.
“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players, there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” said pitcher Max Scherzer in a statement on Twitter.
After much rhetoric about how insulting the offer was, the player’s submitted their own season proposal on May 31. The proposal asked for increased safety measures as well as a 114-game season with no further pay cuts for players. They also wanted player’s to have the ability to decide not to participate in the season; but still receive a year of service time.
The rejection of this proposition led to the current proposal at the table; which MLB has asked the MLBPA to respond to by Wednesday.