Despite this week beginning with another return-to-play proposal by MLB teams, the outlook for a 2020 season is still feeble at best.
Monday started a fresh week for America’s most troubled major league sport, as MLB teams and players continue to try and find common ground on a plan to bring the 2020 season back. Although, as has often been the case during the current squabble between MLB and the MLBPA, Monday featured yet another proposal that’ll almost certainly be rejected.
The league’s owners brought forth a plan to the MLBPA on Monday, calling for a 76-game season that includes players earning 75% of their prorated salaries for the 2020 season, as well as other concessions that feature eliminating draft-pick compensation for free agents and a $200-million playoff pool that requires the postseason to end no later than October 31.
In terms of the total amount of money available to players, here’s how the latest plan compares with MLB’s proposal for an 82-game regular season, per FanGraphs’ Craig Edwards:
Playoffs — $1.65 billion
No playoffs — $1.17 billion
Playoffs — $1.45 billion
No playoffs — $1.25 billion
According to Edward’s analysis Monday afternoon, this new 76-game proposal gives the players an opportunity to earn roughly 14% more, though it also comes with more risk if there’s no postseason this year. Essentially, as shown by the figures above, it’s an $80 million risk to potentially earn $200 million more in salaries.
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But there are of course a few catches here…
First of all, the 75% figure isn’t fully guaranteed. Despite a possible second wave of the COVID-19 virus being completely out of the control of literally everyone involved, players must own the financial brunt of the risk and complete the entire postseason to earn the full 75%.
If not, then only 50% of the players’ prorated salaries are paid. Also, remember that $170 million given to the players several months ago as part of an advance in the event the 2020 season is canceled?
Well, Monday’s proposal by MLB teams allows for 20% (or $34 million) of that advancement to be forgiven, further slashing the players’ possible 2020 earnings.
Overall — despite the evident popularity of playing more games than last discussed — the players in this deal would be working more for less pay. (Again, using the calculations in Edwards’ write-up, Monday’s proposal has the players playing 58% more games for under 20% more money.)
So essentially we’re back at square one. MLB asked the MLBPA to come to a decision by Wednesday, but a rejection will most likely come before this post is even published, pushing both sides back into another stalemate.
Right now the only plan that looks even remotely possible is a drastically shortened season (48 or 50 games), though there has already been talk of several players not even bothering if the 2020 season is shortened to that extent.
Sure, players will have their full prorated salaries in a 50-game setup, but is it really worth it for those soon to hit the open market? An injury or a bad stretch of play could cost some of these guys tens of millions of dollars over the next several seasons.
However, either way, it seems almost a guarantee now that players are collectively looking at a minimum of at least $1 billion in salary cuts in 2020.