With tension between MLB and its players union growing amid negotiations over the economic structure for a shortened 2020 season, the Associated Press reports that longtime agent Scott Boras has told his clients that MLB’s proposal to institute further pay cuts are an effort to cover its losses from poor debt management and should be rejected.
In an email acquired by AP, Boras urged his clients to oppose MLB’s plan to implement a sliding scale of pay cuts after the two sides already agreed to prorate player salaries in March—a deal MLB claims was reached with the assumption fans would be in attendance for games.
Under the system MLB owners proposed Tuesday, players would be broken up into tiers based on their 2020 salaries with the highest-paid players giving up the most.
“Owners are asking for more salary cuts to bail them out of the investment decisions they have made,” Boras said. “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.”
Boras equated the players’ position to one of banks determining whether to give out an interest-free loans.
“Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout,” Boras said. “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.”
Cincinnati Reds starter Trevor Bauer called Boras out in a tweet posted Wednesday, claiming he was “meddling” in union affairs.
Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs. If true — and at this point, these are only rumors — I have one thing to say... Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) May 27, 2020
It’s unclear whether Bauer stands alone in his thinking or there’s a rift within the players union on how to respond to the league’s proposal. The New York Post reported that “industry sources” differed in their opinions of Bauer’s comments, with one arguing that “someone needed to say it” while another called it “nonsense.”
As the news trickled out Wednesday night that the union planned to counter MLB’s proposal with an offer that includes more games and full prorated salaries, Nationals starter and MLBPA player executive subcommittee member Max Scherzer—himself a Boras client—posted a rare tweet saying there was “no justification” for players to accept a second pay cut.
If the union plans to essentially ignore MLB’s proposal and proceed with one that includes no further salary reductions, then that falls in line with the advice Boras gave in his memo to clients.
“Remember, games cannot be played without you,” Boras wrote. “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.”
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