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MLB Players and Owners Still Very Far Apart on Salaries

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Major League Baseball made a proposal to the players’ union on Tuesday during a digital meeting. Their offer differs from the 50-50 revenue-sharing plan that owners initially approved for their negotiators on May 11, several people familiar with the plan told The Associated Press.

The owners proposed a plan that basically amounts to a sliding scale. In their proposal, the additional cuts the league proposed Tuesday would range from 8 percent to 55 percent with an average of 33 percent. Higher paid players would receive the 55 percent cut while lower-paid and league minimum players would get the 8 percent. This also includes the shares players would receive from a postseason pool that could grow to $200 million if the World Series is completed.

The scale goes down as salaries go up, with every dollar:

  • $563,501 to $1 million paid at 72.5%
  • $1,000,001 to $5 million paid at 50%
  • $5,000,001 to $10 million paid at 40%
  • $10,000,001 to $20 million paid at 30%
  • $20,000,001 and up paid at 20%


The postseason bonus, based upon each player’s adjusted salary, would go to every player regardless of whether he plays in the postseason games. Overall salaries, though, would be reduced if a feared second wave of COVID-19 forces the cancellation of any part or all of the playoffs. The league’s proposal at this point does not include a plan to expand the postseason but left open the possibility of such a discussion.

So this means that multimillionaire stars Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole would lose more than 77 percent under this sliding-scale proposal. It what came as no surprise, the response from the MLBPA said that players found the proposal “extremely disappointing.”

Many of the players, both experienced and inexperienced, objected to the plan, which they believe works in contrast to a March deal with the league that they believe mandated that players be paid full prorated salaries upon the return of baseball. While the union will not officially reject the proposal until after it talks with players, the outcome seems all but guaranteed.

One unidentified agent told the Athletic: “Here’s where I think MLB is screwing this up,” one agent said. “They are approaching this like a CBA negotiation. CBA negotiations usually happen in the offseason where players are disconnected, not paying attention and the deals are agreed upon before the season, so they don’t feel any financial impact unless they are a free agent the next year and get screwed.”

“We made a proposal to the union that is completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport,” MLB said in a statement. “We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA.”

So now the ball is in the player’s court. One option for the players is to reject the proposal, forcing the league to improve its offer if it wishes to save the season. Another possibility would be for the MLBPA to make an aggressive counterproposal that at least would keep the conversation going. The union could insist upon prorated salaries but possibly offer deferrals and also push for further proof of MLB’s financial woes, something that the players have been consistently asking for.

This comes as news breaks that teams are beginning to furlough more employees, including their minor league players. The Oakland A’s become the first team to stop paying minor leaguers, as their paychecks are halted after May 31. The A’s also said that professional scouts will be furloughed next week and amateur scouts will be furloughed shortly after the June 10-11 draft.

Also on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that they will be tiered salary cuts for some other their staff. The Dodgers informed their employees on a video call Tuesday afternoon that the salary cuts will affect only full-time employees making more than $75,000 a year, according to ESPN.

Negotiations likely need to be near completion by next week at the latest if baseball is to begin its second spring training in mid-June and start its season by early July.


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