Here we are… Baseball’s most important week ever (version 4? 5?). The standstill, the impasse, the league has been going in circles with players and the union over this financial figure for weeks.
It seems to be boiling down to the fact that owners want to pay players a prorated salary set at about 33% of their original contracts. First, the latest proposal from the league.
MLB has made proposal to Players. 75 percent Prorated salary. 76 game season. Playoff pool money. No draft pick compensation for signing player. Season finishes September 27th. Post season ends at end of October. Significant move towards players demands and effort to play more.
— Karl Ravech (@karlravechespn) June 8, 2020
Ok, that’s a lot to sort through and compare against previous offers. Thankfully Mike Axisa of CBS Sports did the heavy lifting with the math.
– 82 games at sliding scale = ~33% salary
– 50 games at prorated pay = ~33% salary
– 76 games at 75% prorated pay = (drumroll) ~33% salary
It all comes back to the same place. MLB keeps making the same offer in different forms. https://t.co/DVfURfN50f
— Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) June 8, 2020
Yes, on paper it all looks better. The players get a win with the dropped draft pick compensation in free agency. The season length (76 games proposed) is closer to the half-season mark (81 games), but the now 75% prorated salary brings the financials right back to the same spot as the first proposal.
Imagine being told over and over again to take a huge pay cut to do the same work you signed up for?
The Athletic’s Andy McCullough nailed it with his tweet reading “you have to give credit to Major League Baseball for conceding from their initial offer of six of one to now offering half a dozen of the other.”
Where this deal gets worse is in the event that the playoffs cannot be played. Bill Shaikin of the LA Times wrote it this way.
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.
I feel my friend Greg articulated well what I’ve been saying for the last week.
This is baseball telling their players that they don’t respect them. That they aren’t going to budge on money and they seem to not care whether there is a season or not… Baseball screwing things up again is just so typical…frustrating.
It’s the sad truth.
Club owners and players have been heading for this standoff for some time. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement failed the players. Now it appears that a good-faith, emergency agreement signed in March in the wake of a pandemic is being used against them even more.
Breaking it Down with Passan
ESPN’s Jeff Passan did his part to break out this latest proposal to a finer level to help understand where the game is at. The below tweet thread can be found here.
Here’s how to understand MLB’s current offer to the players as compared to its last offer and the possibility of a 48-game season.
Original offer: 82 games, players receive $1.03B in salary and $200M if playoffs are played. Current offer: 76 games, players receive $989M in salary and $443M if playoffs are played, plus no direct draft-pick compensation. 48-game option: $1.03B in salary, no playoff money.
The structure of the league’s last two offers are the same: a 50% cut on prorated salary, plus a playoff bonus. This one, bonus doubled, and with a $50M playoff pool to be distributed to players, it would take them in total to ~75% of prorated salaries if postseason is played.
Players see it like they’re getting less guaranteed, which they are. The expanded playoff pool adds higher potential upside, and the dropping of direct draft-pick compensation unquestionably helps some of the best free agents. But players have held firm on 100% prorated salaries.
Every day that goes by without an agreement, the length of the season drops. And after hearing from players already about this proposal, the prospect of a 48-game season is looking likelier. They’ve been asked to respond by Wednesday, according to sources.
One high-ranking official today said, in no uncertain terms: “There will be baseball.” The question is: Will it be with the sides agreeing to a deal or with the league implementing a 48-game schedule, no expanded playoffs and almost certainly a grievance filed by the union?
First of all, baseball is almost certainly heading toward a lockout. Even if one side caves and agrees to play in 2020, there will be a work stoppage once again ahead of the 2022 season. And it’s sad to see.
Secondly, unfortunately, this might be the best offer the players are going to get. More than likely the union will officially reject the proposal and come back asking for a 90-ish game season, which would shift some of the pressure off of the playoff shares. Additionally, they’ll likely have to concede on their demands for 100% pro-rata salaries and find a mark closer to 85% (likely even lower than that). But at some point, the players do need to offer some concession if they do actually want to play baseball this year.
Yes, the league and owners are the primary bad guys in this story, but if there’s no baseball in 2020, everyone looks like the villain.