MLB owners made a reported offer to the players on Monday, one that calls for a 76-game season and a pay cut for the players, but with caveats that simply enforce the opposite ends of the spectrum both sides are on.
The two biggest points that signify movement from the owners, appear to be that the players could earn a combined $200 million more than the threatened but not yet proposed 50-game season at pro-rated salaries, and that owners would remove draft pick compensation for free agents that turned down qualifying offers.
However, there are potential problems with both points. One, as described by Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times:
But the owners’ proposal translates to the players getting 75% of prorated salaries, with a critical caveat: If the postseason is not completed for any reason — most likely a second wave of the coronavirus — the players would instead get 50% of prorated salaries. That would erase the collective $200 million gain.
As for the qualifying offer, good luck predicting this year’s free agent market. But one thing seems certain: it’s going to be bleak. Owners are balking at paying contracts that are already signed. Good luck getting them to commit to any sort of long-term commitment this winter.
There is some value to removing draft-pick compensation, even for a year, but it’s just hard to see how much.
When it comes down to it, this owners proposal is similar to all of their others, but there is at least some movement:
- On May 26, the owners proposed an 82-game season with a sliding scale of salary cuts beyond the pro-rated share agreed to by the players. From the Associated Press: “MLB estimates 2020 player salaries would drop from roughly $4 billion to $1.23 billion, including the postseason bonus pool.” The players would receive, in total, just over 30 percent of their season-long salaries.
- On June 3 the owners rejected the players’ 114-game proposal, and said they would not make another offer (today’s subsequent offer is a reminder that a lot of this is just posturing). MLB threatened, but did not formally offer a shortened season of about 50 games. Jeff Passan at ESPN reported the league is looking at 48 games at pro-rated pay. That’s just under 30 percent of the players’ season-long salaries.
- Today’s offer maxes out at 75 percent of pro-rated pay for a 76-game season, which comes to roughly 35 percent of the players’ season-long salaries.
It’s at least something, but again that is the best-case scenario.
Other points of the offer:
- Playoffs would expand from 10 to 16 teams this year:
As part of this proposal, MLB asked for 16 teams to make playoffs (8 in each league). The plan calls for 1 to play 8, 2 to play 7, etc. In best-of-3 first round. Right now 5 teams make it in each league. Initial proposal asked for 7.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 8, 2020
- MLB would “forgive 20% of the $170 million in salaries already advanced to players during April and May,” per Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.
- Perhaps the biggest hurdle to a deal is MLB wanting players to assume more risk (and again, at lower pay) during a pandemic:
Besides the $$, MLB's proposal includes a revision to the Operations Manual that says players would have to sign an "acknowledgment of risk" before playing. Players believe it is designed to undermine their right to challenge MLB if it fails to provide a safe working environment.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) June 8, 2020
- What makes this last point so galling is, per reporting by Bradford William Davis at the New York Daily News on Sunday, MLB and its teams have barely even reached out to local health officials regarding safety protocols, despite pledges to do so.
- The clock is still ticking:
MLB’s latest proposal gave the union a deadline of Wednesday to reach agreement on a 76-game season. The inference: each few days is going to keep lowering the number of games believed possible by MLB until it gets to that 48-54 range for full prorated salaries.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 8, 2020
The players, as you might have guessed, are not enthused with this offer from the owners.
The MLBPA regards today’s offer from MLB to be worse than the league’s last because it shifts greater emphasis on risk sharing in the postseason. Players would receive 50 percent of pro rata if there is no postseason, 75 if there is. @karlravechespn first on a new offer coming.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 8, 2020
A PA rep for an NL Team: “We don’t want more or less than what we’re due. It just feels that owners are tanking these negotiations on purpose. The reason why people focus on our salaries and not theirs is because you don’t see breakdowns of billionaires’ incomes in the media.”— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) June 8, 2020
Lol— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) June 8, 2020
that’s cute— Jack Flaherty (@Jack9Flaherty) June 8, 2020
Do they even want to play??? We are ready! ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ ♂️— Roberto Perez (@robperez2015) June 8, 2020
Ha.— Tucker Barnhart (@Tucker_Barnhart) June 8, 2020