NEW YORK >> When Major League Baseball and its players enter the field for a season delayed by Coronan virus in 2020, it will be after fierce negotiations similar to their labor war from a generation ago.
MLB rejected the players’ proposal for a regular season of 114 games with no additional salary cuts and will focus on a shortened streak of maybe 50 games or less. Owners suggested a 82-game schedule last week that began in early July.
“We have no reason to believe that a negotiated solution for an 82-game season is possible,” said Vice Commissioner Dan Halem in a letter to Chief Union negotiator Bruce Meyer obtained by the Associated Press today.
MLB’s plan included a sliding scale of pay cuts that would bring players to the minimum of $ 563,500 with 47% of their original salaries and top stars Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole to less than 22% of the $ 36 million they would earn.
Players insisted that they receive the pro rata salaries agreed in a March 26 deal, making them pay 70% on 114 games. That agreement called on the parties to “discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators”. The union has said that no additional cuts are acceptable.
There has been no schedule since 1879 with an average of less than 82 games per team.
“Despite what it sounds like with some of the Twitter bickering back and forth and some of the attitude back and forth, I’m optimistic that we’re going to play baseball this year,” said David Stearns, president of baseball operations in Milwaukee. “I am optimistic that both sides really want to play baseball this year, that there is a way to do it even if it’s a shorter season, even if it’s 50 games.”
Ballparks without fans certainly seem because of the pandemic. MLB claims major losses from the virus, which is being contested by the union, and teams want additional salary cuts. Halem said that 27 of the 30 teams would lose money on every subsequent game.
A 50-game schedule would result in players receiving about 30% of their full salary under the March 26 deal.
“You confirmed for us on Sunday that players are unanimous in their belief that they will accept no less than 100% of their pro rata salary, and we have no choice but to accept that representation,” Halem wrote.
“Nevertheless, the commissioner is committed to baseball in 2020,” added Halem. “He’s been talking to owners about a shorter season with no fans.”
Halem finished his letter by telling Meyer “we are ready to discuss any ideas you may have that could lead to an agreement on resuming the game without regular fan access to our stadiums.”
MLB plans to start the season in early July, and Halem wrote that an agreement should have been reached by June 1 to reopen training camps by June 10. That would leave three to four weeks of preparation, which, according to Halem, is the “broad consensus.”
“We are against rushing to start the season and then putting players on a grueling schedule,” he said.
Players made their proposal Sunday, five days after management’s initial economic plan. The opening day would be June 30 and the regular season would end on October 31, almost five weeks after the September 27 conclusion that MLB’s proposal stuck to the original schedule of the season.
MLB will not play after October because it fears a second wave of the coronavirus could disrupt the postseason and jeopardize $ 787 million in broadcast revenue. Halem got MLB advisor, Dr. Ali Khan, Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska, at.
“It is not in the collective interest of clubs or players to start a 2020 season and then be forced to suspend or cancel it before the postseason ends,” Halem wrote.
Dr. Khan and his team have informed us that in order to minimize the risk of a later delay or cancellation of the 2020 season, we should aim to complete the season and the post season as early as possible in the fall, ”he wrote. In addition, your proposal ignores the reality of the weather in many parts of the country in the second half of October. If we plan a full set of games at the end of October, we’ll be plagued by cancellations. ”
As part of the March 26 deal, players received $ 170 million in salary advances – ranging from $ 16,500 to $ 286,500 – and a guarantee that if the season is dropped, each player will get 2020 service time corresponding to what the player built in 2019 .
MLB’s proposal on May 26 would cut salaries for 2020 from about $ 4 billion to about $ 1.2 billion, excluding bonus signings, severance pay, or option buyouts. There would be a $ 200 million bonus if the postseason is completed.
The union’s offerings would total about $ 2.8 billion, leaving each player with about 70% of their original salary.
Halem said that testing coronavirus would cost the teams $ 40 to $ 50 million. He claimed that “clubs would do even worse economically if we played a significant number of doubleheaders, as your counter-proposal considers.”
Players suggested that $ 100 million in salaries be postponed to 2021 and 2022 if the postseason is canceled.
“Postponing salaries, with interest, is the economic equivalent of taking on more debt,” said Halem. “Clubs have already incurred $ 2 billion in additional debt to repay and do not have the financial capacity to press for more financial commitments for 2020 without affecting their financial stability.”
Both sides have proposed expanding the playoffs from 10 to 14 teams, and the union has offered to guarantee the expansion until 2021. Both sides are also willing to broaden the use of the designated hitter for all games this year.
The union suggested that high-risk players, or those living with a high-risk person, could opt out of playing, and MLB has said it is willing to discuss the topic. However, MLB says that other players who opt out would not receive salary or service time, which is essential to qualify for freedom of choice and arbitration. The union suggested that the group should not get paid but be on duty.