We’re still in the negotiating stage between major league owners and players for a potential 2020 season, or maybe it’s the posturing stage. Given MLB’s latest response to the players, pessimism seems to reign.
Owners rejected the players’ proposal of a 114-game season, and told the players it would not even send another proposal, per Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
The league, according to sources, also informed the MLBPA it has started talks with its owners about playing a shorter season without fans, and that it is ready to discuss additional ideas with the union on that subject.
The impasse over player pay, however, shows no signs of abating.
The two sides appear entrenched in their positions, specifically wielding the hammers they negotiated in late March. The players are sticking to their guns that they will not take less than the pro-rated salaries they agreed to in March, and have challenged ownership claims of substantial losses. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts went full absurdist in an interview with Jesse Rogers of ESPN, saying, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”
The owners as a whole, meanwhile, are standing firm, saying that March agreement gives them the right to arrange the schedule they see fit.
In other words, the players can have their pro-rated pay, but only a much smaller total amount given owners are threatening to hold a season less than a third of the norm. Agent Smith asking Mr. Anderson, “What good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?”
While you try to wash that image out of your head, you might think this is just part of negotiating, that there are reasons to believe both sides can figure out a middle ground and forge a deal. After all, the alternative of no season seems like the most unnecessary nuclear option that would irreparably damage the sport, especially with the collective bargaining agreement expiring after 2021.
But given how stubborn both sides are at this point in time, it’s hard to be optimistic.
From Jeff Passan at ESPN, “Earlier this week, multiple players told ESPN that they would not abide a shorter schedule, with one saying, ‘We want to play more games, and they want to play less. We want more baseball.’”
From Ronald Blum at the Associated Press, deputy MLB commissioner Dan Halem wrote a letter to union negotiator Bruce Meyer saying, “We do not have any reason to believe that a negotiated solution for an 82-game season is possible.”
Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted Wednesday, “I have heard greater pessimism today from folks on both sides about MLB launching a season than at any point.”
That’s where we’re at now. Maybe owners and players can reach a deal, maybe they can’t. But it doesn’t seem like things are in a good place right now.
- Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com picked the greatest hometown draft picks for each team. His Dodgers selection was first baseman Eric Karros, the sixth-round pick in 1988 out of UCLA who became the all-time home run leader since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.
- Kevin Baxter at the Los Angeles Times dug deep into the world of contract incentives in baseball, including this gem from over three decades ago: “And pitcher Charlie Kerfeld’s second big league contract guaranteed him 37 boxes of orange Jell-O to match the No. 37 on his orange Houston Astros’ jersey.”
- Dustin Nosler at Dodgers Digest unveiled his “big board,” ranking players for next week’s MLB Draft. This was his fourth iteration, with a fifth one coming next week.
- Bowling Green last month discontinued its baseball program, one of many casualties across NCAA during the coronavirus pandemic. But now the program is back, reinstated Tuesday thanks to a fundraising campaign which includes a Dodgers legend. From Kendall Rogers at D1Baseball: “The fundraising group included a plethora of alums, including Orel Hershiser.”
- Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus looked at the potential benefits for teams that continue to pay minor leaguers the paltry stipend of $400 per week.
- This is a few weeks old, and I’m not even sure if their numbers are completely accurate, but Forbes listed the 100 highest-paid athletes in 2020, and Clayton Kershaw was the only baseball player on the list, at No. 57. Given that there’s a chance the season might not happen, it’s understandable why no other baseball players are on the list. Kershaw has a $31 million salary for 2020, but roughly $7.67 million of that is part of his signing bonus, due in June and not dependent on if there is a 2020 season.