MLBPA Presents Latest Proposal, Including a 114-Game Schedule
Major League Baseball was supposed to start their regular season on March 26. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic ran roughshod over the sports world, leading to a postponement on March 12. Two-plus months later, the league still remains at a standstill with no games played or on the schedule as of yet. This week, the owners and the MLB Players Association enter a critical week that could ultimately determine whether we have any baseball this season in North America or if we’re left waiting until 2021 or beyond.
Back in May, the owners approved a proposal for an 82-game season that would create a universal DH. Teams would play games against their division rivals and the teams in the corresponding division in the opposite league. Therefore, a team in the NL Central would play their NL Central brethren and then take on the teams from the AL Central as well. As a part of their proposal, the owners threw out a potential sliding scale for pay cuts of the pro-rated salaries that players would receive, with players making under $1 million earning 72.5 percent of their pro-rated salary while guys making more than $20 million would get 20 percent of their salaries. That didn’t go over well and this weekend, the MLBPA fired back their latest offer.
In the proposal from the MLBPA, the players are proposing a 114-game schedule that would begin June 30 and end on October 31 before getting to the postseason. The proposal also is centered around the players continuing to receive their pro-rated series in full, which is the stance that they took when the owners had pitched the concept of the sliding scale for salary cuts. In addition to that, the proposal presented the option for any and all players to opt out of playing in the 2020 campaign. Players who opt out that are considered high-risk for COVID-19 complications would receive their full pro-rated salary despite not playing. Those who sit out that aren’t high-risk would not receive their salary but would earn a year of service time toward free agency.
Along with everything else, the proposal from the Players Association calls for expanded playoffs for each of the next two seasons and for players to receive a $100 million advance on their salaries during the second coming of spring training. It’s safe to say that there is going to be some strong pushback from the owners when it comes to hammering out this deal. For starters, the owners don’t want to play more games as it merely increases their expenses on salaries for each extra contest logged since there are no fans in attendance to drive revenues. As it stands, owners are already projecting that they could conceivably lose billions of dollars this season.
The fact remains that is baseball plans to get on the ground, the two sides are going to have to hammer out a deal in the next week to 10 days in order to meet the timetable for the season start. For what it’s worth, David Williams, the president of the Pirates, expressed his optimism of the fact that the sides would work out a deal:
“I’m confident just because I think reasonable minds will prevail. They always do in these situations. These are unfortunate times for a lot of people in the world. This is not something that’s just hitting Pittsburgh or the United States. I think we all acknowledge that. We all understand that we’re going to be taking on losses, whether we’re talking about players or organizations. But at the end of the day, reasonable minds will prevail. We’ll be able to find common ground.”
Whether that actually comes to fruition or not remains to be seen. The whole situation is nearing a point of critical mass where the two sides are going to have to give something in order for the season to take place. There is no telling what the damage to the sport would be if the league were to not play at all this season. By the time 2021 would be scheduled to begin, you’d be looking at 18 months since the last meaningful game would have taken place. That would be extremely damaging to the league and its constituency going forward. Can they figure things out and reach an agreement? One can only hope.