While MLB owners are proposing massive cuts, the MLBPA mulls a counter offer.
After weeks of putting it off, MLB came forth with its economic proposal on Tuesday, featuring a sliding scale salary where higher paid players face higher cuts than lower-paid players — a proposition that many feel was intended to shake up the MLBPA.
Whether it created tension within the union or not, the league’s plan was quickly rejected as committee-man Max Scherzer tweeted out what MLB Trade Rumors called a “firm aversion to even engaging with MLB in any further compensation reductions.”
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And you really can’t blame the players here. According to Shawn Brody at Beyond the Boxscore — who took a deep dive into exactly how much the sliding scale will cost players — MLB’s financial proposal takes away another $1 billion from player salaries, or on average, another 38% cut on top of the already pro-rated figures.
And what’s more — as Brody presents in his write-up — in terms of EBITDA (earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization), these further cuts don’t really change much. In other words, no amount of player salary cuts is going to be enough to help teams turn a profit in 2020.
So where does the MLBPA go from here, especially when both sides are far apart?
According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic, the MLBPA is looking to push a counter-proposal that features deferred salaries and an even longer 2020 season — perhaps as many as 110 games. Logically, the deferrals would help the initial hit for team owners, obviously allowing player salaries to be spread out over several years; and a longer season is potentially a win for both parties (given there’s not a second wave of COVID-19).
However, if players were to budge at all in terms of more salary cuts — a notion that hasn’t been raised by anyone within the MLBPA yet — FiveThirtyEight‘s Travis Sawchik suggests a 19% cut from pro-rated salaries would be an appropriate middle-ground for players. However, Scherzer’s tweet linked above appears to state rather clearly that the union is over such talks.
All-in-all, it appears MLB and the MLBPA are still far apart in discussions. The league’s failure to provide documentation regarding its various revenues — which the MLBPA has asked for several times now — certainly hasn’t helped move things along either.
Tuesday’s proposal by MLB was of course just the first of likely many, and the union’s soon to be counteroffer doesn’t necessarily need to lead to 100% cooperation, but the two sides need to at least construct a foundation for this season’s financials. It will be catastrophic if America’s least contact-oriented sport (save for golf) is unable to resume; even more so if the reason stems from money.