More than two months have passed since Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed to terms on service time and salaries for what already had taken shape as an unprecedented 2020 regular season.
However, team owners have sought to negotiate new terms, pointing to purported language in the first deal that both sides would re-engage if the sport faced an untenable outlook. MLB’s position is that became a reality with the prospect the season would have to begin without fans being able to attend games.
After two weeks of posturing, MLB presented the union with a new economic proposal. It was one that called for players to accept a sliding scale for a pay cut on top of prorated salaries that had already agreed upon.
Every indication was the MLBPA would not accept such terms, and they have since provided MLB with a counter-proposal that includes stretching the schedule to more than 100 games, keeping prorated salaries, expanding the playoffs and the possibility to defer salaries in some cases, according to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:
Major League Baseball players proposed a 114-game regular season Sunday, up from 82 in management’s offer, but no additional pay cuts beyond the one they agreed to in March, a person familiar with the plan told The Associated Press.
Opening day in the coronavirus-delayed season would be June 30 and the regular season would end Oct. 31, nearly five weeks after the Sept. 27 conclusion that MLB’s proposal stuck to from the season’s original schedule. The union offered scheduling flexibility to include more doubleheaders.
Players, like MLB, would increase postseason teams from 10 to 14. While management proposed an expanded postseason for 2020 only, the union offered it for this year and next.
All players would have the right to opt out of the season under the union plan.
If the postseason is not held because of a second wave of the pandemic, the union plan calls for $100 million of the approximately $2.8 billion in salary to be deferred with interest, payable in November 2021 and November 2022. Only players whose original 2020 salaries were $10 million or more would be subject to having money deferred.
Under the scenario MLBPA countered with, a player would receive roughly 70% off the full salary he was due in 2020. There had been some indications the union was considering a plan in which they would receive prorated salaries for half a season’s worth of games, but play just over 100 — essentially doing so for ‘free.’
Under the MLBPA proposal, the schedule would call for 114 games in 124 days, suggesting doubleheaders would be a regular component. However, running the regular season deep into October may not be feasible from MLB’s perspective, as the league fears a second coronavirus (COVID-19) wave in the fall that could impact the postseason.
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