The back-and-forth between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association continues to go at a snails pace. The players want the owners to honor their agreement made between the two sides in March that the players would be paid on a prorated basis on the number of games played. Owners, however, want the players to take a further pay cut because they claim isn’t not financially feasible (but when asked for financial documents to show the MLBPA that, they’ve not done so) to pay them that rate.

The players have proposed a season as long as 114 games, while the owners have leaked but never actually proposed a season of 48 games. That plan is one that was agreed upon in March where the MLBPA agreed to let MLB set the season length as long as the players were paid on a prorated basis. That’s a “we can’t agree on anything” fallback plan that MLB doesn’t want to go with, but has leaked it as a threat of sorts to try and put pressure on the players.

On Monday ESPN was reporting that MLB proposed a deal to the players for a 76-game season in which the players would get 75% of their prorated by game salary. Well, sort of. They would only get that 75% if the playoffs were completed. If they played weren’t played, then the players only get 50% of their prorated salary. What does that look like? Let’s see.

Looking at the columns here, it seems that basically the owners are taking the 48-game prorated salaried season, and using it to basically split the difference in this new proposal with their 76-games between a playoffs or a no playoffs situation and what a 48-game full prorated pay season would be.

On one side of things, this seems like a tiny bit of a concession by the owners that they are willing to move slightly closer toward what the players want with regards to pay. Of course, it’s also entirely contingent on a playoff being completed or it’s pretty farm from what the players and owners agreed to back in March. The upside for the players isn’t much for playing a lot more, and the downside is a lot for playing a lot more. It’s movement in the right direction, potentially, but not by a whole lot – there’s a possibility they could play 76 games and make 20% less than they would for a 48-game prorated season.

But it’s still not just about the money. There’s a lot of health stuff that still needs to be figured out. As we wrote about last week, with Texas being the first to suggest pro sports can have (limited) fans in the stands, it’s going to mean that there will need to be additional things worked out in MLB’s health plan that originally included players sitting in the stands behind the dugout in order to maintain social distancing during the game. If fans are in the stands, too, it’s going to mean changes must be made – if nothing else, blocking off those sections, adding extra security to keep the players and fans truly separated.

There’s also the new report that Major League Baseball wants players to sign an “acknowledgement of risk” waiver that would eliminate their ability to hold the league and teams accountable if they do not create a safe work environment, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic. They report that this is a “deal breaker” because the players should have the right to legal action if a safe workplace is not provided.

There is also the hold up, previously noted, over whether players can opt out of playing if they have someone living in their home who is deemed “at risk”, even if the player specifically is not. There’s also an issue of what would qualify someone as “at risk”, as it’s not really spelled out anywhere.

Beyond just the negotiations between the players and owners over safety concerns, there’s seemingly an issue between teams and cities in which they play, too. Bradford William Davis of The New York Daily News contacted the health department of the 28 cities in which there’s a Major League Baseball team to ask if they had received the health plan from Major League Baseball or the team in the city to review the document to see if it would comply with the local regulations. Only five cities confirmed they had even heard from anyone, and only four reported that they had even received a copy of the documentation. Not every health department responded. And some of them that did had questions about the plan they did see, and had some concerns with them.

As mentioned above, Texas seems to be saying they will allow fans at games. But in the article from the Daily News, here’s what Dr. Umair Shah, who is the Harris County Health Department head (Houston) says:

If their plans include having fans there, then absolutely not; it would be way too early,” Shah said in a phone interview. “It would not be the way to go. And you would have to pull back on that.

There’s still a lot of things that need to be figured out, both in terms of the money and who gets what, as well as the health standards, safety, opt-outs, and more on the health side of things. Major League Baseball had a hope to get things started the first week of July. That almost feels impossible right now unless they went with a 2-week “spring training” and came to an agreement this week.

34 Responses

  1. RedNat

    The courage that the protesters showed by gathering shoulder to shoulder will really pave the way for the real reopening of the country. When you watch those images in DC and San Francisco there is absolutely no reason not to let fans in stadiums now

    • Doug Gray

      You mean other than a pandemic that’s killed over 110,000 people there’s no reason.

      • Doc

        110,000 deaths in a country of 340,000,000 people. Over 500,000 die every year from heart disease. Just so we keep things in perspective.

      • Doug Gray

        I can’t give you heart disease by being around you, just to be sure we are actually keeping things in perspective.

      • Redsvol

        Comparing an acute virus to a disease that takes decades to build up to the point of diagnosis seems a little like apples and oranges. Besides, its only been 4 months of data. Americans are always willing to speed their demise faster than other developed countries – 500K annually is probably not out of our reach

      • Reaganspad

        1968, the war in Nam, Inflation rising and the flu kills 100,000 people. That was not enough to stop Mickey Lolich and Bob Gibson or any other sport that year.

        Shutting down the country for so long is worse than the flu manchu

      • Doug Gray

        I’m not going to argue with you about this beyond this point: This isn’t the flu and the country was in a lockdown for months and we still passed up 100,000 deaths in that time.

    • greenmtred

      Sort of like saying: “Gonna be in a head-on crash. Might as well go as fast as I can.” The rate of infection is still growing in a number of states, Texas among them. We lead the world in deaths, and the guy in second place isn’t close. There’s great likelihood that the protests will result in spikes in infection rates, but the protests couldn’t be put on hold.

      • CI3J

        Exactly this. I can’t believe how many people just want to declare COVID is over even though it looks like things are ramping up to get much, much worse again. Reality doesn’t care what you want, we are about to see another huge spike in deaths to go along with the huge spike in cases from re-opening too soon. Both groups of protestors as well as people who are going out in public like there is nothing to worry about are about to make the country regress to where it was in early May.

        Things are about to get really, really bad again, and I’m honestly not sure playing any professional sports is the right move.

    • Redsvol

      just like the reopening phases that are occurring throughout the country, there must be logic involved in how and when to allow masses of people to be in close quarters. The rules work if they are followed. I’m all for baseball restarting – but fans in the stands have to be limited in some reasonable method. Many of these stadiums have max capacity well over 40,000. 25% capacity probably would probably allow every seat between families/groups to be vacant.

  2. CFD3000

    The Owners are slowly killing their golden egg goose. This is so short sighted. Play baseball, take the one year hit IF there is one, and earn the fans respect and attention back to the extent that’s still possible. Otherwise the drop in franchise values will dwarf any small losses from 2020 and Owners risk squandering the entire value of their sport. It’s beyond embarrassing at this point. Get it done – 81 games, with a guaranteed 90% prorated salary per game, plus appropriate post-season compensation. Take the hit, prepare for a full, successful return in 2021.

    • Redsvol

      easy for a fan to say. I find it embarrassing that the players want the owners of a business to take all the risk so the employees can enjoy an unrealistic share of their annual salary. For one thing, its no longer a full season – no matter how they slice it – and secondly, there is no way enough fans will be in the stands to even justify a pro-rated portion of their salary. COVID 19 has changed everything, players – and their puppeteer agents – need to wake up to reality. Many perfectly viable businesses have chosen not to reopen even though they have been allowed to.

  3. Stock

    I agree with a lot of this new proposal.

    I agree that if the players want to play at home (and I think only two Reds call Cincinnati home) then they should participate in the Risks of not having a playoff. I do think the 75% of pay should be increased 10% – 20%. I think the 50% no playoff rate should be increased 5% – 10%.

    I agree that players should sign an acknowledgement of risk clause. It is easy to determine that something should have been done after the fact that one did not think of prior to an outbreak. I also feel the owners should abide by a set of minimum requirements for the safety of the players. The owners should want this too. Every precaution should be taken to ensure a complete season.

    • g

      And what recourse would the players have if the owners didn’t follow the safety guidelines? I’m not being argumentative, but that does need to be answered. Relying on the good faith of the owners isn’t enough.

  4. Klugo

    I’m afraid I think we are headed for the feared 9 letter word. STEEERIKE.
    The owners are basically bringing the same pig to the party, only in a different dress. Seems to me like they are probably spending more time behind the scenes lobbying MLB to sign off on the 50 gamer. And I dont know that the players will do it.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      It’s my understanding that Manfred has the right, under a previous agreement with the union, to dictate how many games the regular season will be as long as MLB agrees to pay 1-162nd of each player’s full salary per game. Any player who opts not to participate would not get paid. (With the possible exception of a possible allowance for high-risk players to opt out.)

      • Klugo

        So, if Manfred pulls the trigger and makes the call, the players will choose if it is worth it. Some will say yes. Others will not think so. But they will make a unified decision as a union. My guess is the answer will be no.
        That’s a heavy gavel the commish is holding. Strong repercussions.

  5. Sliotar

    @TomMitsoff

    Yes, good point.

    Once the players signed off on allowing Commissioner to set schedule and pro-rated pay …. the owners have had the players right where they want them.

    It was true weeks ago… it is even truer now.

    Are the players going to sit out the season at this point? Not likely.

    So … keep offering bad deals until players take 1 of them. Hard-nosed negotiating.

    The clock is ticking every day on crowning a championship before November 1.

  6. Amarillo

    Since there is going to be no baseball this season, then it was a good thing we didn’t make any significant trades last off-season I guess.

    • Matt WI

      Except if no baseball, they could lose Bauer and Castellanos immediately, and add another year of age to Moose and Votto. Not a good scenario.

  7. vegastypo

    And then, we get to do this all over again as the end of the CBA approaches after the 2021 season. …

    If there is no serious progress toward a new CBA toward the end of the 2021 season, would the players go on strike to deprive the owners of the postseason money? Getting way ahead of myself, I realize, but it seems like the responsible thing would be to get this settled and then begin doing the groundwork toward the CBA.

  8. ClevelandRedsFan

    It really feels like negotiating this offer, and doing so quickly, is the best chance for players to maximize their 2020 earnings.

    With owners’ proposal, they will make more than the 50- or 48-game schedule. It’s high time for both sides to make a deal and let go of their petty differences of trying to win the negotiations. Players should counter 90%. If not, then they will be stuck with the 48- or 50-game schedule and less money.

    MLB is the only disfunctional sport left.

  9. B-town fan

    Why not just make it an even 82 games or even better more than that, whats this 76 stuff? Come on guys Play Ball!

  10. Eric the Red

    Why did the players rush to make the original deal giving them only 4% of their salary for this year, plus hand the owners the unilateral right to impose a 48 game “season”? A lot of problems seem to be coming as a result of that earlier, rushed, agreement and I just can’t see why they did it.

    • magi210

      Probably because when it was made, there was a lot of uncertainty about how long the season would be held up and how strong the pandemic was going to be.

      • Eric the Red

        So they rushed to grab the certainty of 4%? That doesn’t seem too bright on the players’ part.

    • ClevelandRedsFan

      That’s the real question no one is asking. This site had an article about playing games without fans will before spring training was canceled.

      It’s ridiculous owners and players didn’t discuss that possibility in March and come to a decision when they had ample time to negotiate. Everyone knew games without fans was a possibility. We’re missing out on real baseball now because the previous agreement was too sparse.

  11. Bred

    If they do play this year, it will only be for $, but I guess that is what it is all only about to the players and owners. However, for die hard fans who spend money to watch games invest energy and time, and purchase merchandise it is so much more. For me it about being a part of something bigger than an individual. For instance when I visit RNL or RML it is about being part of the community Doug created. I admit I don’t hang on to the Reds losses like I did when I was a kid. Maybe the last few years got me used to losing or just being older quiets the roar. I still have my favorite players and root for them. I know I am not part of the team, but I identify myself as a member of the fan base by wearing my Reds gear hear in Texas. If they don’t play because of Covid, I get that and would hold no grudge at all and really think that would be best for their health, but if it fall apart because of$$$$, I just might drift away from the game and no amount of home runs is going to change my mind.

  12. Old-school

    Very good synopsis and great table.

    Paul Daugherty has an article in which he references a few VIP sources and it’s all lawyering. He indicated if nothing reached this week, Manfred will set reporting date next date. If players don’t show, their contracts will be voided. If players do show , they can obstruct playoffs and ruin payout. What a mess.

  13. Redsvol

    I must say I’m shocked at the general opinion here that the players are being taken advantage of. The season has been drastically altered by a pandemic neither the owner or players had any control over. Revenue from a shortened season with no fans in the stands will be drastically reduced from any reasonable business model.

    So here we are, with a proposal to players where most will make hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars for playing 76 games of baseball- probably 4 months of work. IF that doesn’t get it done, then it is time to break the union and install an agreement on the NBA or NFL model where stars make money and each team has a cap and each contract has a max number of guaranteed years.

    • ClevelandRedsFan

      I don’t like the max number of guaranteed years. If a team wants to pay a player for 20 years, let them.

      The MLB truly needs to consider if their model is broken. I know revenue sharing and salary caps are the boogey man and the candy man to the MLBPA, but with revenue sharing we’d now all be talking more about Bell’s bullpen usage than play proposals. Revenue sharing and salary caps (And yes salary floors) can create more parity, which is an overall win for the entire game. Plus revenue sharing makes both sides partners in growing the game instead of constantly trying to fight each other to move the proverbial rope an inch closer.

      • Sliotar

        The model is broken ….

        Ryan Spilborghs was involved in the 2011 and 2016 CBA negotiations with the Rockies …. and admitted this afternoon on MLB Radio that “I left the players in a worse situation than I had inherited.”

        So … the players are going to claw back any real gains within this current system …. with declining interest and the worst economy in decades?

        Tony Clark in incompetent, IMO, and nothing will truly change until he is gone as head of the MLBPA.

      • Sliotar

        Spilborghs said it was the 2011 CBA that haunted him as a clear loss for the players.

        2016 was worse by the players, because you push when times are good and they did not … but Ol’ Spilly was not part of that.