Although a March 26 agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association addressed service time and pay for a potential 2020 regular season, the two sides have been at odds over the past few weeks.
MLB team owners assert language in the March agreement calls for both parties to enter into a new round of negotiations if the sport faced a reality of not being able to begin the season with economic feasibility.
Owners have taken the stance they would lose more money by paying prorated salaries to players for games that don’t have fans in attendance than if the season was cancelled. There reportedly are some owners who are open to cancelling the entire year.
Shortly after the MLBPA presented the league with their counter-proposal, the meeting between the two sides was described as ‘contentious.’ That seemingly has been supported by comments from Dan Halem of MLB and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Halem took from the meeting that the Players Association was aware fan-less games would prompt discussions about salaries:
“The one piece of good news out of [Sunday’s] meeting is that Tony Clark acknowledged that the March Agreement contemplated another negotiation over player salaries if the 2020 season could not be played in front of fans. We were concerned based on media reports if players knew that. Tony told us the players were aware that the March Agreement did not resolve the issue of player salaries in a season without fans. And he said the players‘ decision to accept nothing less than 100 percent of their prorated salaries was due to the risks of playing the season, not because they were promised it in the March 26 agreement.”
When Halem’s quote was relayed to Clark, he accused MLB of attempting skew public perception
“Dan’s quote about Sunday’s meeting is purposefully misleading and inaccurate. We have an agreement on compensation that says clearly how players get paid in the event games are played — pro rata. In fact, the league recently confirmed in writing that, ‘We agree with the Association that, under the Agreement, players are not required to accept less than their full prorated salary.’
“We have never denied that MLB has the ability to come back and try to persuade us to change that agreement based on their economic concerns. They’ve tried unsuccessfully. In fact, Rob confirmed [Sunday] that, ‘We can pay you 100 percent of salary right now.’ This is all part of the league’s attempts to negotiate through the media instead of focusing on how to bring baseball back to its fans.”
In their latest offer, the MLBPA stuck by their demand for prorated salaries, though offered to extend the season to 114 games, among other items presented. MLB is not believed to have interest in that long of a season, and while it may not be formally presented, is said to be open to playing just 50 or 60 games.
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