MLBPA’s counter-proposal could lay the groundwork for a real deal

In their counter-proposal, the MLBPA laid the foundation for a legitimate deal.

Almost a week after owners delivered their “shameful” offer to the MLBPA, an offer that included a sliding scale in which richer payers would see a larger pay cut, the players have finally countered with a proposal of their own. Though this deal reveals a wide gap between both parties, it actually contains components that can work for both sides.

Before we reveal those aspects of the deal that are fair, let’s understand what exactly the players proposed.

According to Evan Drellich of the Athletic, the players are asking:

  • to play 114 games between June 1 and October 31,
  • for 2-years of expanded playoffs from 10 teams to 14 teams
  • for $100M of total deferred money only if the postseason is canceled; payments to be made by November of 2022,
  • and an opt-out for players that don’t want to play.

In regards to the opt-out clause, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal clarified that those who are “high risk” or live with someone who is “high risk” would continue to get paid. However, everyone else who chooses not to play would get service time, but won’t be paid.

Other components in the deal, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, are that players want 3-weeks of training. If this deal is to be accepted, Passan added, negotiations would have be wrapped up “this week.”

Finally, Jon Heyman also added that the MLBPA’s proposal includes a $100M advance to be paid at the start of the second Spring Training. In a later tweet, he quoted one ownership person as saying that this proposal was a “non-starter.”

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Here are three areas in MLBPA’s proposal that can be adopted by both sides.

The first being the expanded postseason, which is something the owners have wanted for quite some time and has been said to be on the table for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Secondly, the idea of offering players deferred payment should also entice owners. With baseball having an opportunity to win over some fans by being the only major professional sport operating for a couple of months, owners could commit to backloading some of the owed money to a time when the sport could be back at full force and then some.

Finally, the opt-out component of the deal works two-fold. Players that can’t play through no fault of their own, would continue to get paid and could return when the pandemic has ended. Also, players that choose not to play even though they’re not at risk don’t have to and owners don’t have to pay them.

Where both sides will disagree on is the financials. 114 games amount to 71% of the season and given baseball’s pay if you play rule, owners will owe more money to players. On the other hand, 82 games would only amount to about 50% of the season and pay.

In essence, we’re looking for either the owners to agree to pay players about 60% of their pay or for the season to be about 97 games.

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Morale around the support has been low since the owners’ offer last week, to the point where most fans don’t see a season being played. The players’ offer should change that perception, but only time will tell.