Blake Snell

Scott Boras lays out reasons why MLB players shouldn't give owners a 'bailout'

Scott Boras lays out reasons why MLB players shouldn't give owners a 'bailout'

In an e-mail to his clients obtained by The Associated Press, agent Scott Boras urged his players (which includes Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and other Phillies) to reject MLB's salary reduction proposal, citing debt financing as the reason franchises are facing financial issues during the coronavirus pandemic.

Boras wrote this:

"Remember, games cannot be played without you. Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated.

"Owners are asking for more salary cuts to bail them out of the investment decisions they have made. If this was just about baseball, playing games would give the owners enough money to pay the players their full prorated salaries and run the baseball organization. The owners' current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks. This type of financing is allowed and encouraged by MLB because it has resulted in significant franchise valuations.

“Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout. They are not offering players a share of the stadiums, ballpark villages or the club itself, even though salary reductions would help owners pay for these valuable franchise assets. These billionaires want the money for free. No bank would do that. Banks demand loans be repaid with interest. Players should be entitled to the same respect.

"Make no mistake, owners have chosen to take on these loans because, in normal times, it is a smart financial decision. But, these unnecessary choices have now put them in a challenging spot. Players should stand strong because players are not the ones who advised owners to borrow money to purchase their franchises and players are not the ones who have benefited from the recent record revenues and profits.

"... Please share this concept with your teammates and fellow players when MLB request further concessions or deferral of salaries.”

Boras used Cubs ownership, the Ricketts family, to illustrate the point.

"Throughout this process, they will be able to claim that they never had any profits because those profits went to pay off their loans," Boras wrote. "However, the end result is that the Ricketts will own improved assets that significantly increases the value of the Cubs — value that is not shared with the players."

Boras' e-mail followed MLB's proposal to the players' association Tuesday of a sliding scale of prorated pay in 2020 in which the highest-paid players would receive the lowest percentage of their prorated salaries and the lowest-paid players would receive the highest percentage of their prorated salaries. In essence, Harper would receive a lower percentage of his $25.4 million AAV than Hoskins would receive from his $605,000 salary.

The players' association found the proposal insulting and is not interested in the sliding scale of pay. Max Scherzer, who is on the MLBPA's eight-man subcommittee, released this statement Wednesday night.

The Phillies are well stocked with Boras clients: Harper, Hoskins, Jake Arrieta, Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott, Vince Velasquez, Cole Irvin, Nick Williams. Boras also, as of this week, represents Rays lefty and former AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, whom Harper backed up recently after Snell commented on the pay dispute in a polarizing way.

Of course, not everyone agrees with Boras, as outlined in this NY Post piece and in this tweet by outspoken Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer.

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Stephen A. Smith thinks Bryce Harper should 'shut the hell up' about reduced pay

Stephen A. Smith thinks Bryce Harper should 'shut the hell up' about reduced pay

Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper gave some brief thoughts Thursday night on a pressing topic. He, a baseball player, weighed in on the discussions between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association about reduced pay during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For his troubles, he received on Friday the full wrath of ESPN's Professional Screaming Man Stephen A. Smith.

Harper said during a Twitch stream Thursday night that Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell — who said he wouldn't play in 2020 if his salary was further reduced — was "right," and that Snell was "speaking the truth."

Smith apparently didn't appreciate Harper taking that stance.

"What are you doing? Shut the hell up, and let the Players Association speak," Smith shouted during a segment Friday, targeting Harper.

"You can't tell people, at a time when 33 million people plus are on unemployment at this time, you can't sit up there, 'Oh, I've got to get mine. I can't accept half of $7 million.' Shut up. That's just dumb. Period."

When Max Kellerman tried to argue that Snell, who hasn't yet signed a lucrative deal, might be in the right, Smith brought things back to Harper.

"Bryce Harper said something, Max. Bryce Harper said something. Bryce Harper agreed with him, publicly," Smith continued. "You just signed for 300 million-plus dollars. A 13-year, guaranteed contract. Why are you opening your mouth? Shut up."

Kellerman tried to remind Smith that the team owners are worth significantly more than players, but Smith reiterated his stance that Harper should leave the arguing to the Players Association.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman helped illustrate the current situation this week:

The initial agreement guaranteed players a full year of service time, 4% of their 2020 salaries through the end of May, and then the prorated amount of their salary based on the number of games played this season. 

However, owners have since pushed for a 50-50 revenue split with players because of the extraordinary circumstances, and are seeking a further reduction of the prorated pay because of the steep financial losses of playing out a season without fans in the stands. Ticket sales accounted for approximately $4-5 billion last season.

The players' association, led by executive director Tony Clark, has countered that the owners are taking advantage of the global pandemic to institute a salary cap.

A global pandemic putting professional sports on indefinite pause isn't normal, so it's hard to say if anyone is handling this situation incorrectly. Harper spoke up about what he feels is right and fair, and it's hard to blame him for doing so. 

Hopefully we can see actual games this summer and move on.

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Bryce Harper on Blake Snell's refusal to take reduced MLB salary: 'He's right'

Bryce Harper on Blake Snell's refusal to take reduced MLB salary: 'He's right'

A day after Rays lefty Blake Snell explained on a Twitch live stream that he will not play this season if his salary is reduced beyond the prorated "guarantee" that was agreed upon with owners in March, Bryce Harper responded on a Twitch live stream of his own.

"What did Snell say earlier on his stream, do you know?" Harper asked his fellow Fortnite streamer, Phillies prospect Bryson Stott.

When the message was relayed, Harper said:

"He ain't lying, he's right. He's speaking the truth bro. I ain't mad at him. Somebody's gotta say it, at least he manned up and said it. Good for him. I love Snell, the guy's a beast. One of the best lefties in the game."

This is what Snell had said a day earlier:

"Y'all gotta understand, man, for me to go — for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof. No, I gotta get my money. I'm not playing unless I get mine, OK? And that's just the way it is for me. Like, I'm sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I'm making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?

"Bro, I'm risking my life. What do you mean it should not be a thing? It should 100% be a thing. If I'm gonna play, I should be getting the money I signed to be getting paid. I should not be getting half of what I'm getting paid because the season's cut in half, on top of a 33% cut of the half that's already there -- so I'm really getting, like, 25%. On top of that, it's getting taxed. So imagine how much I'm actually making to play, you know what I'm saying?

"I'm just saying, it doesn't make sense for me to lose all of that money and then go play. And then be on lockdown, not around my family, not around the people I love, and getting paid way the hell less -- and then the risk of injury runs every time I step on the field."

MLB owners approved a plan that would have the season begin in early July, provided enough testing is in place and public health officials have signed off on the parameters being sufficiently safe. There is still, however, the issue of player pay. The initial agreement guaranteed players a full year of service time, 4% of their 2020 salaries through the end of May, and then the prorated amount of their salary based on the number of games played this season. 

However, owners have since pushed for a 50-50 revenue split with players because of the extraordinary circumstances, and are seeking a further reduction of the prorated pay because of the steep financial losses of playing out a season without fans in the stands. Ticket sales accounted for approximately $4-5 billion last season.

The players' association, led by executive director Tony Clark, has countered that the owners are taking advantage of the global pandemic to institute a salary cap.

On a CNN town hall Thursday night, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said that if there is no season, the losses for owners could approach $4 billion.

"Playing in empty stadiums is not a great deal for us economically," Manfred said, "but our owners are committed to doing that because they feel it's important that the game be back on the field and that the game be a sign of a beginning to return to normalcy to American life the way we've always enjoyed it."

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