Major League Baseball has a new approach to reducing the financial toll of playing without fans. And it's highly unpopular within the players association.
The economic proposal the owners presented the MLBPA on Tuesday included additional pay cuts, on top of the players’ already prorated salaries, according to multiple reports. Those cuts would affect all players but range depending on the player's pay, with the highest-paid players taking on the largest burden.
The players association characterized the proposal as “extremely disappointing,” and described the cuts as “massive.”
ESPN reported that the highest-paid players could receive less than 40 percent of their full-season salaries. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that it could be as low as 20-30 percent for the likes of Mike Trout, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.
“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.”
Tuesday’s proposal abandoned the idea of a 50-50 revenue split, which the owners floated two weeks ago. Although the revenue split was not formally presented to the players, when reports of the owner’s plan became public, it received immediate pushback.
First of all, the union opposed a system associated with salary-capped leagues. The players association has been consistent for decades in its stance against a salary cap.
Secondly, the owners and players were at odds over the interpretation of their March agreement. In late March, players agreed to prorated salaries for the upcoming shortened season. The owners claimed that the language of the agreement allowed them to revisit the issue of player pay if the season had to go on without fans. The union disagreed.
MLB’s first financial proposal to the players association avoids a clash over revenue splitting but does nothing to address the latter concern.
Pay cuts are just one aspect of the upcoming financial negotiations. Tension in financial negotiations has revealed just how far the players and owners are from agreement on health-and-safety protocols as well.
Gordon Wittenmyer contributed to the reporting of this story.