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The Owners Refuse to Budge in MLB Labor Negotiations

While the NBA and NHL have come to agreements with their players on the resumption of the season, the MLBPA and owners are currently settling their labor issues in the court of public opinion. The difference between the three leagues is that the MLB players and owners are currently fighting over what holds the most power in the entire world.

Money.

The NBA and NHL have already played 90% of their season, so players have already been paid and do not need to fight for their contracts. On the other hand, the 2020 MLB regular season had never started, and it would be impossible to play a 162 game season with the current landscape of the world.

NBA and NHL owners have also already received the vast majority of their ticket revenue as teams had played almost all of their home games up to the season being postponed. It is likely that MLB owners will not receive a single dime of their expected 2020 ticket revenue meaning their income has rapidly decreased.

This does not mean that the owners can claim that they cannot afford players’ salaries with no ticket revenue coming in. The majority of the owners in the MLB are billionaires and have some form of business that makes them money outside of what their baseball club brings in.

The players are also not making crazy demands. All they want is a 100% prorated salary and not 100% of their normal salary. This means that if 81 games are played in this shortened season, a player will make 50% of their contract. So a player like Yu Darvish, who was set to make $20 million in 2020, would have a salary of $10 million if half of the games are played.

The owners’ most recent proposal to the players calls for a 75% prorated salary for 76 games, but that prorated salary would drop to 50% if a second wave of Covid-19 hits and cancels the postseason. This would mean that Yu Darvish would make about $7.5 million under this proposal, but then would have his salary drop to roughly $5 million if the postseason were to be cancelled.

The players may be more hung up on the fact that the prorated salary would drop to 50% with no playoffs, as there is a chance that the postseason could be cancelled with the uncertainty of how bad a second wave of Coronavirus will be.

While $7.5 million and even $5 million is still a lot of money, I need to hark back to a point I made last week. 65% of the players in the MLB make $1 million or less meaning the majority of the league would be vastly affected by this owner proposal.

A guy like Atlanta Braves’ second basemen Charlie Culberson, who was set to make $1 million in 2020, would be one of the many guys who would see a drastic reduction in his salary under this proposal. Culberson would make $375,000 under this format and would see that number drop to $250,000 if there was no postseason.

The players on rookie contracts, who make up more than half of the league, would be hurt considerably from this. Most rookie deals are set at a yearly average of roughly $600,000, so those players would see their salaries drop to $225,000 and $150,000 with no playoffs.

This is why the players are heavily fighting the owners on the issue. The Mike Trouts and Gerrit Coles of the league will be fine with a lower prorated salary, but the majority of the league, specifically the younger players, will be heavily affected. The MLBPA fights for all the players, and they realize how bad of a deal this would be for a good portion of the league.

The crazy part about this low ball offer is that the owners had basically proposed the same exact deal to the players a little over a week ago. In that proposal, there would be a 50 game season with 100% prorated salaries.

With roughly 1/3 of the normal 162 game season being played at 100% prorated salaries, a player like Charlie Culberson would make about $333,333 compared to the roughly $375,000 he would make with a 76 game season and 75% prorated salary. There is a very slight difference in this deal meaning all the owners did was repackage their last offer to include more games at a lower salary rate.

Both offers significantly affect those making $1 million or less, which I have already said is the majority of the league. Either the owners thought they could trick the players with this new deal or they were hoping the fans would not see the similarities between both offers and would view the players as greedy and the owners as the ones who were trying to bring baseball back.

The MLBPA have been more than reasonable with their demands for the 2020 season. They are not asking for 100% of their contracts. Instead what they are looking for is 100% prorated salaries for a fair number of games. The latest offer by the MLBPA calls for an 89 game season with the same salary percentage as before.

This is not a ridiculous request by the players. They feel that if they play a little more than half of a 162 game season, they should receive 50% of their pay. That is what should be done and hopefully the owners will stop being greedy and accept this offer or bargain the deal down to 75-81 games at 100% prorated salaries.

A resumption of Spring Training should start no later than early July, so time is running out on a deal being done. There is a chance that there will be no baseball in 2020, but that will be the fault of the owners and not the players.

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