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.