MLB Season Hangs in the Balance

The next few days could go a long way toward deciding the fate of the 2020 MLB season. On Tuesday, owners made their first official pitch to the Players’ Association for how the finances of the 2020 season will work. That plan was met with a profound lack of enthusiasm, taking away some recent optimism that the 2020 season will be played in some form and leaving the fate of the season hanging in the balance.

On Tuesday, the MLB proposed a financial plan that calls for players to be compensated on a sliding scale. Players making the most money would receive a smaller percentage of their expected 2020 salary while lower-paid players would receive a larger percentage. Players set to make over $20 million this season would receive no more than 20% of their original salary, while players making less than $1 million would be getting roughly 72.5% of their salary. However, that plan has been viewed by the players as borderline-insulting and a non-starter.

“The proposal involves massive additional pay cuts and the union is extremely disappointed,” the Players Association said in a statement. “We’re also far apart on health and safety protocols.”

The saga between the players and owners started back in March when the two sides agreed that players should receive a prorated salary in 2020 based on the number of games played. However, public comments the two sides have made since then have suggested that they no longer see eye to eye on the issue and are far apart.

The players believe that there is nothing left to discuss while the owners are desperate to renegotiate the financial element of the 2020 season. At the time of the March agreement, the owners believed that when games resumed, fans would be allowed in attendance. With that unlikely, the finances have changed, requiring a new financial agreement for the season, at least in their eyes.

Not An Option

While never officially proposed to the players, the owners agreed to pitch a 50-50 revenue sharing plan. However, when that plan was reportedly publicly, union representatives were quick to dismiss it.

The Players’ Association compared revenue sharing to a salary cap, which they vehemently oppose and won’t consider, even under these unique circumstances. With that in mind, the owners were left to scramble for an alternative plan before formally making their proposal to the players on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, the players appear to be no more receptive to the sliding-scale proposal than they were the revenue sharing plan. In fact, it’s not a given that the players will even make a counter proposal to continue negotiations. Max Scherzer, who is one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee, released a statement reiterating that the players have no interest in taking another pay cut after agreeing to prorated salaries.

Rather than responding to MLB’s plan, the Players’ Association is expected to propose its own plan, which reportedly includes playing at least 100 games at a prorated salary. Owners insist that they would lose a substantial amount of money if players receive prorated salaries without revenue from fans being in attendance at games. But the players remain skeptical of that assertion without teams offering any proof.

Regardless of documented proof, it seems likely that both players and owners will lose money in an abbreviated season that’s played without fans. However, both still recognize the long-term losses could be even greater if money gets in the way of the 2020 season being played. Right now, that could be the only thing that helps the sides moving toward a financial agreement despite the owners and players currently being miles apart, putting the 2020 season in doubt.

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