It would appear that everyone got the email or text message at the same time because Jeff Passan of ESPN, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, Jon Heyman of MLB Network all had it on twitter within a minute of each other, that on Sunday afternoon the Major League Baseball Players Association presented a plan to Major League Baseball for the 2020 season. There were some health related parts to the proposal as well as some monetary parts to the proposal beyond just the schedule itself.

The Health Proposal

Whether some would like to believe it or not, the back-and-forth in these negotiations aren’t simply about money. Yes, money is a very big part of it, but it’s not all of it. There’s a worldwide pandemic still happening with a virus that is still killings thousands of people per day around the world. It’s highly contagious and one that many people can spread without even knowing that they have it.

Jeff Passan of ESPN reported some of the proposal on Sunday night (I am typing this at 12:45am, so it’s possible the link will have more updated information by the time that you read this). One of those proposed changes to the health plan offered by MLB last week was that players who are not deemed “high risk” would also be able to opt out of playing this year. Those players would not be paid their salary. Players whoa re “high risk” can opt out and would still be paid. Further reporting by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic notes that the players submitted plan also includes that players who live with someone that is “high risk” would also be able to opt out and receive their salary. Anyone opting out would receive service time. MLB had offered in their plan the option for “high risk” players the ability to opt out and still be paid (on the sliding scale that they proposed).

The Money and Schedule Proposal

The players are not backing off of the prorated pay by game agreement that they reached in late March. What the players proposed is a prorated by games played salary structure, along with a 114 game schedule that would end on October 31st – resulting in a 14-team playoff, with seven from each league (however the leagues are set up – it’s not specific in any report). The top team in each league would get a bye.

Now, that part of the proposal alone seems to be a non-starter for reasons I’ve started in the past. The owners want fewer games because it means they pay less, and the owners want more of a guarantee that they can get through the playoffs before an expected “second wave” of COVID-19 hits and potentially shuts things down across the country again. The reason for that is because the national playoff television contracts are enormous, and getting that money would keep the owners from taking an enormous hit. It’s why their proposal had the World Series ending by the start of November – they want the highest likelihood possible of completing the playoffs so they can be made whole on that playoff contract.

But the players had some other proposals, too. They are willing to allow expanded playoffs for two years, which would allow MLB to sell more playoff games to broadcasters and potentially bring in more money. The players also said they would be willing to take some salary deferrals into the future IF the playoffs were cancelled this year. That would only apply to players making more than $10M a season.The deferments would be paid out in both November 2021 and 2022 – as reported at The Athletic.

The players also added some rather interesting things to their offer. They’ve said they would be willing to wear microphones on the field during games, hold off-season events that could include an All-Star game and a Home Run Derby.

It’s a “non-starter” proposal

Jon Heyman was the only person I saw on Sunday night that had a quote of sorts from anyone on the non-player side, and it went just as expect.

15 Responses

  1. CFD3000

    So I guess we’ll know in about a week if the owners and players are serious about meeting in the middle. Baseball in 2020 is looking like a coin flip proposition at best right now. In my mind it comes down to two key questions, both to be answered by owners:

    What is the likelihood of making it through the playoffs and collecting that post-season broadcast revenue?

    If there is no baseball in 2020, is there baseball in 2021 again and if so, what is the price of a long term hit to revenue and franchise values if they don’t agree to play in 2020?

    I get that some owners don’t even want games in 2020, but that’s a shortsighted view. Fans and eyeballs will not return as quickly in 2021 and beyond if billionaire owners and (perceived) millionaire players don’t play ball over dollars. We really won’t have much sympathy given the overall economic (and health and social unrest) environment. I really hope the owners do not take the myopic view.

    • Sliotar

      @CFD

      Nah … owners got the players right where they want them.

      Service time for those opt-ing out may rankle some owners, like if Blake Snell wants to sit home and brag while playing video games while the 2020 season is going on…

      …but that’s small potatoes when you are still winning the labor war.

      Nothing in this proposal suggests the MLBPA is ready to fight for 2021 or the next CBA.

      IMO … key will be compromising on season end-date to give best chance to finish 2020 season.

    • Stock

      If the players insist on playing outside of AZ and FLA then the chance of being a playoff in 2020 is slim in my opinion.

      As for 2021. They talk and talk about a vaccine. But note that no vaccine has ever been invented to stop a nasal virus, which Covid 19 is. Adjustments need to be made. MLB has not made them. Lets hope they do by 2021 or baseball is in trouble.

      I hope I am wrong. The future of college and professional sports looks pretty bleak in my eyes.

  2. RedNat

    I hope the owners and players get their act together because there is no reason there cannot be fans in the stands fairly soon. you look at the corona numbers in Spain and Italy and they are really diminishing. We are about a month behind them so I would think by July the numbers would really be tailing off here to the point of reopening the stands to at least 50% capacity with obvious restrictions. old guys like me or people with immunocompromised conditions should not attend.

    just think of the psychologic (and economic) lift the game of baseball could give the country if they get started this summer. the players proposal of more games and playing into November just makes no sense from a health perspective so I think is a non starter. 82 games with playoffs starting October 1 is perfect because the season would be over before the flu season next year. just pray they can get it done. the country needs it!

    • JayTheRed

      Not arguing that the country could sure use an uplift… but.. We cannot really compare ourselves to Spain and Italy. We are a much bigger country and there are about 30 % of states on huge upswings in cases and percentage of cases are increasing instead of decreasing. There is going to be a huge risk if we do have baseball this season from a health of players. Could you imagine how we Reds fans would feel if lets say some of our best players got the virus cause they were playing the games and even worse if they died because of this.

      I feel like they should meet somewhere in the middle wait until probably middle of July to start games and play like half way through Oct. Then have playoffs to finish out the year by about 1st week of November. Also playoff games should be played in a neutral ballpark somewhere in the southern US.

      I know teams and players are taking a hit they will no matter what happens this year but they could minimize that hit by working with each other. The rest of the world of business is taking hits in most areas with some exceptions of course why baseball can’t get its act together boggles my mind.

      • CI3J

        Exactly this.

        I think something a lot of people are overlooking is that it is highly likely there is going to be a second wave in the U.S. due to the fact that people got impatient and insisted on opening the country before the virus had gotten under control. We haven’t yet seen the results of this as some states just opened again last week and it takes about 2 weeks for infections to show symptoms, but by this time next week, things could be looking very grim again. Cases are already increasing again, and there figures to be an exponential explosion sooner rather than later.

        If that happens, I’d say that’s the final nail in the coffin of the 2020 baseball season.

  3. Sliotar

    MLBPA offer reeks of desperation.

    -Spring Training has to begin in what … a week, 10 days at most … to start June 30?

    -Considering above time frame … no chance MLB “books” can be sufficiently analyzed. Players are punting on that (for now, at least).

    -Off-season HR derby and All-Star Game … LOL.
    Who is going to watch that … or attend that, with NFL going from August to February and the NBA making up lost time, projecting to start next season in December or January?

    -$10 million salary and above get deferrals if playoffs cancelled… again, LOL.
    That will help the class divide already among players … 65% make $1 million or less.

    Owners will find an issue to jawbone on … but, there is a lot that can be easily lived with, IMO, especially with books staying closed.

    • Sliotar

      Also …where is a Medical Hardship Fund, funded by owners … to cover infections and who knows what else players/families might deal with in-season … since we’ve heard all along “it’s the players taking all the risk?”

      Players waited too long to try and set up alternative agreement(s) … they “died on the hill” of the disputed March deal.

      Now, running out of runway to even have a 2020 season … going to end up leaving a lot of stuff on the table.

    • Stock

      From Sliotar

      -$10 million salary and above get deferrals if playoffs cancelled… again, LOL.
      That will help the class divide already among players … 65% make $1 million or less.

      Why would players making less than $10 million agree to this? Since 75% plus make less than 10 million a year shouldn’t the players union have rejected this themselves. Seems kind of fishy to me.

      Player making $3 million a year: “I can see that Mike Trout needs his $35 million for this 2020 far more than I need my $3 million so i think the players union should add a clause to make sure Trout gets paid.”

      Wife of player making $3 million a year: “Now I know why the phrase “dumb jock” was created.”

  4. BK

    MLBPA’s proposal essentially ask the owners to lose even more money by playing more games knowing the owners can’t cover cost for any games without fans. They just gave the owners a really strong argument that MLBPA is not negotiating in good faith.

    The owners should have never offered revenue sharing (it doesn’t fit w/the contract structure and caused the union to strike) and their second offer was perceived by many as intended to create division in the union. MLBPA just whiffed on their opportunity to seize the initiative negotiations and the pettiness continues. Manfred and Clark both need to be replaced.

  5. Big Ed

    This was a non-starter offer, just like the last owners’ offer. Doing the playoffs in November would kill ratings. Who is going to watch the Rays and White Sox on November 7, when there is Alabama-LSU, Clemson at Notre Dame, and USC-Oregon?

    I tend to believe that both sides are so out-of-touch that they don’t understand that they simply HAVE to reach a deal. An agreement will likely be for 82-ish games, with some arrangement whereby the higher paid guys get some of their pay deferred over three years or so. Maybe they can work out a revenue plan, whereby some post-season money is set aside to be used to expedite the deferral period

    Both need some fact-saving at this point. And they should do their negotiating in private, not on the internet.

    • Stock

      i told a friend in February that 1 million people in the world would die of Covid 19 this year. I still stand by that statement.

      I don’t think you will see any college football this year. Surely, you won’t see more than a month of the season.

      Unless the players agree to a quarantine I don’t see pro football having much life. Football is so different than baseball. you are chest to chest grunting, slobbering and sharing spit, play after play. If one player has it by the end of the game half the players on the other team has it.

  6. Stock

    1. High risk players don’t have to play because of the added risk therein. That is fair but isn’t that the players admitting the playoffs won’t happen.

    2. Players want to play games in MLB cities because they don’t want to be away from their families. I think only one of two Reds live in Cincinnati so this makes no sense to me. Add a lot of risk for no real gain.

    3. Team with the best record gets a first round bye. The week long layoff may be more of a disadvantage than an advantage. Does the guarantee to enter round two out weigh the loss of momentum and timing that is so necessary in baseball.

    4. Seems to me the players had the chance to counter with a proposal to make themselves appear to be the good guys. Now the owners look good.

  7. AvidRedsFan

    I’ve been hearing that the owners might pay full pro-rated salaries if a 50-game schedule occurs. I think if that is the case — then there might be a middle ground between the two parties there — and that may wind up being our season.

    In this case with 114 games, I think it is impractical because it is too costly on the owners, and the players have a much higher chance of getting COVID over a season of that length, so overall it just doesn’t make much sense to me for that to be the final solution.

  8. Hotto4Votto

    114 seems too much in too short of time. Injury risk, the second spike, late fall weather are just some of the obstacles in that scenario. But 50 games seems too short. I wouldn’t think a 50 games would give any legitimacy to the season. If they’re going to play, it needs to be in the 80-100 range of games. Pro-rate and/or defer the salaries and get moving.