White Sox

MLB's reported choices for players: Another pay cut or wait for fans' return

MLB's reported choices for players: Another pay cut or wait for fans' return

While players’ thoughts on the health-and-safety measures Major League Baseball proposed for a 2020 season over the weekend would seem to be more important, money issues could provide the biggest hurdle to the return of baseball this year.

The league and the players’ union continue to discuss the proposals for getting a shortened 2020 season off the ground. But the two sides remain at odds on how players will be compensated, and it’s that bubbling labor battle that has the ability to derail a season before it gets started — no matter how much either side wants to get back on the field.

MLB has reportedly not yet made an official economic proposal to the union. But MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Tuesday that the league has outlined a choice between two options:


The league’s stance is that games without fans — and the steep decline in revenue because of it — and paying players their prorated salaries are mutually exclusive, that they will not bring in enough money to pay the players what they’re owed. The owners also believe the language in the March agreement between the two sides means they already agreed to negotiate further on player compensation if they ended up not being able to have paying customers in the stands.

The players, in turn, believe the issue of compensation was settled in March, when they agreed to prorated salaries based on the number of games that ended up being played in a 2020 season. With the league proposing an 82-game slate, players are prepared to receive roughly half their original salaries under such a scenario, a seemingly hefty 50-percent pay cut.

RELATED: MLB's sweeping health-and-safety proposals would bring big change to baseball

The players say that if Major League Baseball seriously believes it’s not economically feasible to stage a season in which the players receive even prorated salaries, then the league should share their financial records with the players to prove it. And that doesn’t seem like a ridiculous thing to ask, especially when the owners are proposing — though they haven’t done so officially yet — revenue sharing as the solution to this problem.

Under a revenue-sharing plan, player compensation would come from half the revenue the league brings in in 2020, which remember is expected to be drastically reduced this year. The players fear it would put baseball on a path to revenue sharing and a salary cap past the unique circumstances of the 2020 season. The NFL and NBA have revenue sharing between owners and players. They also have salary caps, which baseball does not, and the players are vehemently against the institution of a salary cap, as it would obviously restrict how much they can make.

The owners’ response in negotiations, which are seemingly happening in public through these various reports, is that players can either negotiate a new compensation system for the 2020 season or wait until paying fans are allowed to fill stadiums again after the coronavirus pandemic ends. Of course, no one knows when that will be.

As states across the country continue to open after months of lockdown, there’s more optimism that baseball will happen in 2020. California and New York, two states that have taken precautionary measures quite seriously, indicated Monday that they would welcome the return of pro sports, without fans, next month.

Baseball’s proposal to start a shortened season includes a second round of spring training beginning in the middle of June, either at teams’ home ballparks or at their spring training facilities in Arizona or Florida, and an Opening Day set for the first few days of July.

That doesn’t give the league and the union long to figure out these financial issues.

But while the public-health situation might not make staging a season wise, an opportunity does exist for baseball to capitalize on being the only sport in action as sports-hungry fans remain at home craving competition to watch on TV. And that provides an incentive for both sides to make a deal.

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MLB The Show: White Sox hold off late Cubs rally to clinch two-game sweep

MLB The Show: White Sox hold off late Cubs rally to clinch two-game sweep

This two-game series vs. the Cubs heading into the All-Star break marks the end of NBC Sports Chicago’s simulation of the 2020 White Sox season.

Result: White Sox def. Cubs, 8-7 
Record: 56-37, 1st in AL Central (3.0 games ahead of Twins)

W: Dane Dunning (6-1)
L: Jon Lester (6-8)
SV: Alex Colome (20)

Game summary: After taking down the Cubs 10-8 in the series opener, the White Sox followed up Wednesday’s performance with another victory against the Cubs to finish their sim season. Lucas Giolito got the ball against Jon Lester and got punished early by the Cubs power bats. Javy Báez and Kyle Schwarber homered in the first to give the Cubs an early 2-0 lead.

Lester did not fare well in the first either. Edwin Encarnacion led off the Sox night with a home run and Lester’s night only got worse as the South Siders scored two more in the third on a Jose Abreu single. The White Sox added three more in the fourth, capped off by a Yoan Moncada RBI single that ended Lester’s night. 

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After a Jason Kipnis home run brought the Cubs back within two, Tim Anderson homered to take back the three-run lead. In the sixth, Encarnacion homered again for the 35th time this season, taking the American League lead from teammate Yasmani Grandal. 

Things got testy for the White Sox late when Kipnis homered for a second time and Baez followed with another homer to make it 8-7. The Sox bullpen got back on track in the eighth and ninth as former Cub Steve Cishek and closer Alex Colomé shut down the Cubs to secure the series sweep.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 4-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI (.334 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 0-3, 2 BB (.259 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 3-5, RBI (.279 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 1-3, 2B (.301 BA)
Jose Abreu: 1-4, 2 RBI (.320 BA)
Tim Anderson: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI (.271 BA)
Luis Robert: 0-3, BB (.255 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-4 (.285 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 1-4, RBI (.257 BA)

Scoring summary:

Top first

Javy Báez homered to left field. 1-0 CHC.
Kyle Schwarber homered to right field. 2-0 CHC.

Bottom first:

Edwin Encarnacion homered to left field. 2-1 CHC.

Bottom third:

Jose Abreu singled to center field, Encarnacion and Yoan Moncada scored. 3-2 CHW.

Top fourth:

Willson Contreras homered to left field. 3-3.

Bottom fourth:

Nomar Mazara singled to left field, Luis Robert scored. 4-3 CHW.
Encarnacion singled to right field, Nick Madrigal scored. 5-3 CHW.
Moncada singled to right field, Mazara scored. 6-3 CHW.

Top fifth:

Jason Kipnis homered to right field. 6-4 CHW.

Bottom fifth:

Tim Anderson homered to left field. 7-4 CHW.

Top sixth:

Ian Happ sacrifice fly to center field, Anthony Rizzo scored. 7-5 CHW.

Bottom sixh:

Encarnacion homered to left field. 8-5 CHW.

Top seventh:

Kipnis homered to right field. 8-6 CHW.
Báez homered to left field. 8-7 CHW.

Notable performance: Colomé picked up his 20th save of the season on Thursday as he inched closer to his 2019 total of 30. Colome has converted 20 of his 24 chances this season after starting the year as a setup man to then closer Aaron Bummer.

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Aaron Bummer praises White Sox in all aspects, ready for team to 'catch fire'

Aaron Bummer praises White Sox in all aspects, ready for team to 'catch fire'

Starting pitching. Relief pitching. Hitting.

Save defense, that about covers the ingredients necessary to be a well-rounded ball club, a team capable of winning a lot of games, a division title and potentially a World Series championship.

Are the White Sox that kind of team? Do they have all those necessary ingredients in the cupboard?

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It's going to take some time to find out whether that's the case or not, especially in this most unusual of seasons. Like any team — and any team on the rise, in particular; the last time these White Sox played regular-season baseball, they were wrapping up an 89-loss campaign — there are questions, some of them big. Can Tim Anderson and Yoán Moncada still put up huge numbers if their good fortune from 2019 decreases? Will Luis Robert's jam-packed toolbox translate to instant major league mastery? And what the heck are the White Sox going to get out of Dylan Cease, Reynaldo López, Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodón?

But if the team can receive positive answers to those questions and more, then things could be looking up fast. In a squeezed-down, 60-game season where a fast start is mandatory, those answers will need to come in a hurry.

Are they capable? They sure look it.

"We've got a lot of young guys that can catch fire," White Sox reliever Aaron Bummer said Thursday. "That's kind of what they always say, it's always catching fire at the right time. We've got a young group of guys mixed in with a whole bunch of veterans that have been there and done it.

"I'm excited to get everybody together, and hopefully we can ride that wave, hopefully we start out strong. A lot of people have said, you can break it down into three seasons: You're going to win 20, you're going to lose 20, what are you going to do with the other 20? Hopefully we're going to go out there, catch fire and win a whole bunch of games."

Winning a whole bunch of games is obviously every team's goal on the doorstep of the regular season. And truly, every team might be in the mix to do just that in this two-month dash to the postseason.

But the White Sox do appear well equipped, and the combination of young players who broke out in a big way last season and the veteran additions that Rick Hahn's front office made over the winter has the possibility to make them the most balanced group in a three-team race for the AL Central crown. The Minnesota Twins swing some serious sticks, and they added perennial MVP candidate Josh Donaldson to that already ferocious lineup. But will the pitching staff past José Berríos match the fear the offense strikes in opposing clubs? The Cleveland Indians might still have the best starting rotation in baseball, even after dealing away Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber. But can their top-heavy lineup match the quality of their arms?

The White Sox boast a remade lineup, now featuring Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnación, Nomar Mazara and Robert to go along with Moncada, Anderson, Eloy Jiménez and José Abreu. Bummer, a pitcher, sees plenty of reason his fellow hurlers should be scared.

"Abreu, Encarnación, Eloy," Bummer said, merely listing the trio he had to face in Thursday's intrasquad game, when he coughed up a parrot-producing homer to Encarnación. "It's not going to stop. I think the depth of that lineup has gotten a whole lot longer, and I'm glad that they're all on our side."

The starting rotation has new faces, too, chiefly free-agent adds Dallas Keuchel and Gio González, two accomplished arms who have playoff experience. Match that with Lucas Giolito, fresh off an All-Star campaign, and the collection of talented, if not completely proven, young arms — the aforementioned Cease, López, Kopech and Rodón — and it's a deeper group than what the team was ready to break camp with in March.

"It's fun to watch those guys compete," Bummer said. "You see the pure stuff of Giolito, Cease and Rodón. It's pure ability, it's pure stuff. And then you have the veterans, Keuchel and Gio González, who have been there, done that, and they pitch. They go out there and they dominate with their ability to pitch. And even adding Lopey to the mix. Lopey's stuff is unbelievable.

"There's six guys out there right now, I'll roll with them over anybody. I'll roll with that starting rotation. They get as far into the games as possible, and hopefully the bullpen can go out and go save a bunch of wins for them."

RELATED: White Sox pitchers up for any role in short season: 'We want to win'

And then there's Bummer's unit, the bullpen, which was a strength for the White Sox last season. Bummer, Alex Colomé, Evan Marshall and Jimmy Cordero made for a dependable group of late-inning options, and that group's grown with the addition of Steve Cishek, who made so many high-leverage pitches for contending Cubs teams in recent seasons. Throw in a potential bounce-back candidate in Kelvin Herrera, and there's impressive depth here, too.

"It's exciting," Bummer said. "You add in Cishek, you add in a full season of the guys like Marshall, Jimmy Cordero, and there are a lot of guys out there. There are guys hungry for a nice bounce back between Kelvin and Jace (Fry). I think everybody's hungry to go out there and do their job.

"I would stack us up, I think we're seven or eight deep out there, to go out there and get competitive outs. As long as we keep ourselves in games, I think our bullpen is going to be a pretty good strength moving forward."

What else could the White Sox ask for?

Listing the roster doesn't win games, of course, but adding everything up, stacking all the positives up in one place, it's easy to see why this team could be capable of making some real noise, even in this strangest of seasons.

Hahn will point to the high volume of these guys who are under team control deep into the future, and his rebuilding effort has always targeted a contention window that gets propped open for years. That also looks possible.

All the White Sox need to do is open it. The postseason expectations that dominated the pre-shutdown era of 2020, from SoxFest in January through the abrupt end to spring training in mid March, showed how serious the White Sox are about doing that opening this year. And as Bummer and so many others on this team will tell you, the months-long layoff didn't change those expectations one bit.

The future, especially in this season, under these circumstances, is unpredictable. But no matter where you look on this roster, the White Sox look capable of grabbing that future by the horns.


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