Evan Marshall was not put on Earth to talk about money. He’s here to play baseball.
But as we hope and wait for the owners and players to come to a financial agreement for a baseball season in 2020, the White Sox pitcher is stuck in a holding pattern, talking dollars and trying to make sense of the situation.
“We’re just preaching patience. A lot of guys are getting antsy. What’s going on this second is a whole lot of nothing. We’re getting made out to be the bad guys in a lot of newspapers and online outlets because we didn’t agree to the pay cut,” Marshall said on the White Sox Talk Podcast.
The pay cut Marshall speaks of is the 50-50 revenue split the owners will reportedly pitch to the players' union. This came after the two sides agreed on March 26 that the players would receive prorated salaries based on the number of games played in a shortened 2020 campaign. The owners say that assumed paying fans would be in the seats. Faced with possibly playing a season in empty stadiums — and experiencing a dramatic dip in revenue because of it — the owners believe the language in the March deal provides room to renegotiate. The players feel otherwise.
“What was the point of having negotiations and reaching an agreement and all the lawyers present if it was really not going to do a whole lot? It got us a little bit of time down the road, but it didn’t take care of the bigger issue,” Marshall said.
Up until this point, the players seem to know as much as you do about the owners' financial proposal, which reportedly has yet to be formally proposed. Where has Marshall received his information? On Twitter.
“From the business side, we haven’t heard anything directly from (the owners),” Marshall said. “It’s an interesting back and forth. For all of the amount of information that is out in the media about proposals and things like that, us as players really haven’t gotten much. It’s been leaked out to the media for this or that reason. It’s like they’re testing the waters to see maybe what the public’s reaction to their ideas are going to be.”
Fortunately, there are signs that some movement could be ahead. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB attorneys plan to present an economic plan to the player’s union by Friday.
Where do the players stand on the issue? Marshall is pretty clear.
“Owners are looking out to protect their interests, and I understand that. That’s Business 101,“ he said. “Businesses have ups and downs. All the players are already prepared that this is going to be a down year financially. There’s no way around that. The owners are doing what savvy businessmen do.
“Us as players are just trying to protect ourselves and our futures and our values. Last year, profits had never been higher. Our salaries don’t change. It’s like when things are great, they get to keep that, but when they’re bad, they’re asking us to share in the losses.”
During a global pandemic with 36 million people filing for unemployment in the United States, millionaires and billionaires fighting over money doesn’t play well across America.
“There’s no way 'round it. That looks bad from both sides,” Marshall agreed.
That said, he’s becoming more optimistic that they will find a middle ground and that baseball will be played in 2020.
“I’ve been floating around the 50-50 area about the odds of things getting done, but seeing the amount of man hours that have been put in to try and make this happen, I’m really leaning towards at least 75 percent that baseball is going to happen.
“I hope 100 percent it happens and I know a lot of other guys do, too.”
Hear more from Marshall on the issues surrounding the attempt to get a 2020 season started on the White Sox Talk Podcast.