Tuesday's meeting between MLB and the players' association kicked off an important week for a sport that knows it needs to quickly solve its financial battle and return to our screens.
According to multiple reports, the financial plan proposed to the players on Tuesday involved a sliding scale that would give the largest percentage of prorated salaries to players earning the least, and the smallest percentage of prorated salaries to players earning the most.
In simpler terms: If the players were to sign off on this plan, it would mean Bryce Harper ($27.5M in 2020) would get a lower percentage of his prorated salary than would Rhys Hoskins ($605,000).
The rationale of this reported proposal is pretty clear: There are so many more players earning close to the league minimum than there are superstars earning eight figures per year. If the players earning the least are given the highest percentage of their prorated salaries, it means a large chunk of the league would be close to earning what it would've if the March agreement regarding full prorated salaries remained untouched.
Let's use the Phillies as an example. In 2020, they were set to pay:
• Bryce Harper just over $27.5M
• Zack Wheeler $21.5M
• Jake Arrieta $20M
• Andrew McCutchen $17M
• Jean Segura $14.85M
• Didi Gregorius $14M
• David Robertson $11M
• J.T. Realmuto $10M
They have seven more players set to make between $1.5 million and $8.5 million. The remaining 25 players on the 40-man roster, plus all the non-roster invitees and pre-arbitration players, all fall below that line.
This paints a clearer picture of how it could shake out:
The salary scale in the proposal is:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 27, 2020
- $0 to $563,500 (league minimum) paid at 90%
- $563,501 to $1 million paid at 72.5%
- $1,000,001 to $5 million paid at 50%
- $5,000,001 to $10 million paid at 40%
- $10,000,001 to $20 million paid at 30%
- $20,000,001 and up paid at 20%
From a Phillies perspective, it would mean Harper would earn about $6.5-7M of his $27.5 million salary. For Wheeler, that number would be about $5.4 million. For Arrieta, $5 million. And so on.
That is just an example, though. It is currently unclear how many different prorated tiers there would be, what the percentage would be for each, and whether the players would even sign off on this.
However, there are other factors at play. MLB could also elongate what we expected to be an 82-game season to closer to 100 games. The additional revenue of more games on local and national TV could mean a slightly higher percentage of salaries for players.
And, per the Post, "there also would be a kicker in which the players would receive a greater percentage of the salaries if the postseason is played — MLB receives the lion’s share of its national TV money from the playoffs."
There are some hurdles with this plan. There is the potential of pitting players against each other within their own union based on the different tiers of prorated pay. There is also the potential of a few superstar players feeling it's not worth it to play. What if you're Mookie Betts and you agree to play for a fraction of your salary and then suffer a bad injury that diminishes your free-agent value?
Interesting strategy of making the best most marketable players potentially look like the bad guys— Brett Anderson (@_BAnderson30_) May 26, 2020
There is no doubt that everyone in baseball is in this together and it benefits all sides to have the game return this summer. But there is still much more negotiating to be done.