What won’t be a shining moment for Major League Baseball is coming soon.
The players and league appear to be on track to figure out health regulations. Though, there is a lot of work to be done to finish such an effort. Both sides -- the owners and players -- are desperate to play. Why? Because this is their job, their rhythm and their livelihood. Which is why they can likely come to an agreement about an acceptable level of risk to restart baseball in regard to health regulations.
Once that is determined, ugly will stop by for a week. The portion of the problem projected to be poorly received in public will become the lone remaining hurdle: who gets what revenue.
Baseball’s sides have argued over this for decades. The players go on strike, the owners try to keep salaries down, both plead their case in the media. Two guaranteed things follow. The public groans and, eventually, the sides come to an agreement.
Part of this brutish process played out Tuesday when multiple reports said the owners asked the players for a tiered pay cut. The players, predictably, did not agree.
For the Nationals, who have sunk the majority of their payroll into starting pitchers, the proposed system would take large chunks of cash from their top-end players.
Max Scherzer is in the sixth year of his seven-year, $210 million contract. Stephen Strasburg is in the first year of his seven-year, $245 million contract. Patrick Corbin is in the second year of his six-year, $140 million deal.
Corbin’s base salary jumped to $19 million this year. Strasburg was in line for $35 million. Scherzer’s base salary was supposed to be $28,777,759. He receives a large “signing bonus” annual payment of $7.1 million.
The new proposal from the league would vault all three into the top tier of pay cuts.
Here’s the scale, as reported by ESPN:
- $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%
These cuts follow the already prorated salaries players would work under during an 82-game season. So, it’s akin to a sale of 20 percent off something that is already 50 percent off.
Which produces rough numbers like this:
Scherzer would make around $4.333 million in base salary.
Strasburg would make $5.313 million.
Corbin is in a relative sweet spot. He would be right behind Scherzer, at $3.815 million, because he’s a tier below in the sliding reduction scale and receives a 10-percent bump compared to Scherzer.
The proposal includes a split of postseason money, too. This is typically a boon for owners. Here, they are trying to give the players a piece in order to make the pay cuts more palatable. However, the players are aware the owners are offering the riskiest part of this financial endeavor -- that there would be a postseason -- in exchange for a guaranteed reduction.
So, the players see an offer where they assume all the risk -- health on the field and as it relates to the coronavirus, a guaranteed reduction in pay, and a non-guaranteed way to make up the financial ground. They will not agree to that. At least not in such large reductions.
So, be prepared for more groaning, griping and general sighs. The sides have about 10 days to figure this all out. The only thing known so far is this structure will not work.
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