For those of you hoping that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for Major League Baseball returning, you may have seen that light get a little dimmer on Tuesday evening. After backing off of an idea of a 50-50 revenue split of 2020 revenues between the players and owners after union head Tony Clark said it was a non-starter because it was basically a salary cap, MLB came to the virtual table on Tuesday with a different plan. It was basically a slap in the face to the players.
Jeff Passan of ESPN was the first to report the salary scale proposed by MLB to the union. The players and owners agreed to a deal at the end of March that the players would be paid on a prorated basis per game this year. The owners decided that they would try to use the “economically feasible” clause in the contract since fans aren’t likely to be in stadiums at the start of the year and negotiate a new agreement.
What they offered on Tuesday broke down like this:
The more money you make in 2020, the more of a pay cut you actually are expected to take here. Guys making league minimum almost get their full salary that they agreed to back in March. The group making $15,000,000 or more a season? They get 44.53% of what was agreed to back in March.
Sort of. What do I mean sort of? Well, it came out later in the evening that these numbers actually reflect what guys would be paid if the World Series were to be completed. With each round of the playoffs that are completed, the players actually get a chunk of money to be added to the “pool” to pay players.
Let’s take Mike Trout as an example here, because Jeff Passan has already done the math for me. If there are no playoffs played, then Mike Trout would actually only get paid $5,748,577.
Now for a harder one: Mike Trout. His 2020 salary: $37,666,666. Prorated: $19,065,843. He would get $256,706 for his first $563,500 earned, $160,185 for the second tier, $1,012,346 for the third and fourth, $1,518,519 for the fifth and $1,788,477 for the sixth. Total: $5,748,577.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 27, 2020
The impact of the playoffs happening are lesser on the players making lower end money – as noted by Passan, a league minimum player would only see $5,512 in a “postseason bonus”, but for Mike Trout, that postseason bonus is about $2,500,000.
The owners are asking Mike Trout, who entered the year with a guaranteed contract for $37,666,666 to agree to play for 15.3% of that, and if things go just right, he’ll get a little bonus that will push his salary to just a reduction overall to 22% of what he was supposed to be guaranteed this year and just over 44% of what the two sides already agreed to back in March.
The owners want absolutely ZERO risk at all. They’ve enjoyed record revenue and team value growth for the last two decades straight. And now that there is finally a situation where they may lose money in a single year, they have decided that they can’t have that happen and want the players to not only take an enormous pay cut, but also to actually risk their health and their families health to do so.
The owners want the players to share the losses. But when they sold 70-something percent of BAMTech to Disney over two years for $2.6 Billion, they claimed it was non-baseball revenue (despite the fact that BAMTech was created as apart of Major League Baseball Advanced Media). And when teams have signed new local television deals, 18 of the 30 teams wound up as partial owners of the regional sports network that their games were on as a part of the contracts for broadcasting the baseball games, which they got instead of paying more money for the rights to broadcast those games. One additional team, the Blue Jays, are owned outright by the company that also owns their sports network (so 19 team owners of the 30 own at least part of their RSN). And as you guessed it, owning part of Fox Sports whatever region isn’t “baseball revenue”, either. Yet it only exists because of baseball. The owners definitely don’t want to share those gains.
Many see Major League Baseball’s proposal as an attempt to try and divide the union. With more members being in the lower tier of salary, they wouldn’t be effected nearly as much by the “decline” from the already agreed upon prorated by game pay. While the more senior members of the union, the ones who have reached free agency and been able to sign big contracts after years of being vastly underpaid, are now expected to take massive pay reductions.
In an article from Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic published at nearly 2am ET (yeah, it was published 9 minutes ago, and I’m typing this at 1:52am – my schedule probably is nothing like yours, and for that, you should be happy because man, it’s a weird schedule I keep), this quote from an agent makes you think that it’s not going to work in splitting the union into factions:
I have never seen a collective response like I’m seeing today from the players,” one agent said. “They are livid.
Marcus Stroman, starting pitcher for the Mets weighed in on Tuesday evening with this….
This season is not looking promising. Keeping the mind and body ready regardless. Time to dive into some life-after-baseball projects. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Brighter times remain ahead!
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) May 26, 2020
Things can change rather quickly in these sorts of things, but it’s ugly right now. And the players feel insulted, nearly across the board.
What exactly the players come back to the virtual table with is unknown. The whole thing needs to be discussed among the teams and team reps before they then get back to the discussion of what they want to do. With that said, if “the plan” is to get baseball back by the first week of July, there’s about a week remaining to come to an agreement if that’s going to happen given the amount of time needed for spring training (are we still calling it spring training?).