A day after hearing exactly how much less the owners want to pay the players to start a shortened baseball season, it’s becoming clearer that the players think the owners came up way short.
According to the Associated Press, many players are angry about the owners’ proposal for a sliding-scale, billion-plus-dollar pay-cut proposal that would impact the highest-paid players the most, and that the union plans to stick to the prorated salary arrangement it agreed to with the owners on March 26.
The AP also reported that the players want to increase the number of regular-season games this year.
The owners are believed to have pitched an 82-game COVID-19 shortened schedule that would begin in early July. Playing more regular-season games would mean the players would earn an increased portion of their prorated salaries.
What the owners’ plans for an expanded playoff schedule and how those revenues would affect player compensation are not yet known.
The union, said the AP, held a conference call on Wednesday with its executive board, player representatives and alternate player representatives. Talks were also held with players’ agents, said one industry source.
In a tweet, Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman said, “This season is not looking promising. Keeping the mind and body ready regardless.”
The timing for a formal response from the union is unknown, and since the players are opposed to pay cuts on top of prorated salary reductions, they may not even respond to that specific owners’ proposal.
The salary reductions sought by the owners would cumulatively amount to about a third less than the $2.55 billion in prorated salaries the players agreed to in late March.
If the players accept further salary reductions, it might come down to doing so on a temporary basis in the form of deferred payments.
In response to one tweet suggesting the deferred payment plan at a time “when the league is flush again,” Red Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar tweeted: “Smartest thing I’ve heard all day. Its about honor a contract that players committed to. I’m held responsible for rent in Boston because I signed a contract. A global pandemic didn’t get me out of writing a check every month despite not being there.”
According to an industry source, MLB is in wait mode for counter-proposals from the MLBPA.
The players are also expected to offer their thoughts on the detailed health and safety protocols presented earlier by the owners.
What’s making the players even less receptive to the owners’ pay-cut proposals is that it is the players, not the owners, who are being asked to assume the health risks of leaving their families and traveling around the country in the midst of the pandemic.
Another sticking point is the owners’ request for the players to bear a portion of losses when owners do not directly share their profits on good years.
The MLBPA’s initial reaction to the owners’ proposal on Tuesday was one of disappointment, b since the sides agreed on prorated salaries two months ago.
Based on their interpretation of a clause in that agreement, the owners saw an opening to make further pay cuts because of the revenue losses they would sustain if those games were to be played without paying customers because of the pandemic, which halted spring training in mid-March.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted about agent Scott Boras.
“Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs,” tweeted Bauer. “If true — and at this point, these are only rumors — I have one thing to say … Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.
Before Bauer’s tweet, Boras told the Associated Press, “Working together to manage the public health issue has brought great solidarity among the players. They are a good united front and resolute in their support of the MLBPA.”
For the season to start in early July, which is a date that both sides might actually agree upon, the players and owners would have to come to an agreement in early June before the anticipated restart of spring training on June 10.
Michael Silverman can be reached at email@example.com.