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Report: MLB to propose shorter season, pay players full share of prorated salaries

Rob Manfred

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 10: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the 2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings on December 10, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

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Last week, Major League Baseball owners and the MLB Players Association opened dialogue concerning the details about a modified 2020 season. The league’s original suggestion involved a “sliding scale” salary structure for player salaries. The players, who already agreed to prorated salaries back in March, were not happy at the suggestion they should take a second, more drastic pay cut, especially one leaked to the media and disguised as fair as it dinged higher-paid players more.

Last night, the MLBPA sent its own proposal to the owners, suggesting a 114-game regular season. It also suggested a $100 million advance to be paid to players when a second, shorter spring training started. Players would also have the ability to opt out of participating in the season, though only players considered “high risk” health-wise would still get paid their full salaries. Additionally, the MLBPA suggested playoff expansion in both 2020 and ’21, and offered the possibility for payment deferrals.

Today, the owners have offered another proposal. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the proposal includes a shorter regular season in the neighborhood of 50 games. Passan notes that MLB’s latest proposal would pay players the full prorated share of their salaries. However, as there are only 50 or so games as opposed to 114, that still represents a significant pay cut.

There has been no official explanation, of course, but the owners likely want a shorter season so they can fit in some version of an expanded playoff format before an expected “second wave” of the coronavirus. The two sides will likely meet somewhere in the middle, perhaps at around 75 or 80 games. If you are the kind of person who views baseball’s return during a pandemic as good news, then this is the best news we have had for quite some time. There is a road for the two sides to come to an agreement.

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