In an email sent to all 30 teams on Monday, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said that “I fully anticipate baseball will return this season” amid the decision to suspend all Uniform Employee Contracts, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
The email came as Manfred moved to allow teams to furlough non-player employees such as coaches, trainers, scouts and, in some cases, general managers. Per AP, there are 9,000 employees across the league hired under UECs, many of whom have no work to do as a result of the suspension of the season due to coronavirus.
"Our clubs rely heavily on revenue from tickets/concessions, broadcasting/media, licensing and sponsorships to pay salaries," Manfred wrote in the email, as reported by the Associated Press. "In the absence of games, these revenue streams will be lost or substantially reduced, and clubs will not have sufficient funds to meet their financial obligations."
Despite the decision, ESPN found that 18 teams have already committed to paying their baseball operations employees through May 31. As for the players, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that New York Mets owner Jeff Wilpon told him the union would have to agree to further pay cuts if games are going to be played without fans.
“Apparently, Major League Baseball would have to make a deal with the players because if you have no one in the stands then the numbers are going to change, right? The economics are going to change,” Cuomo said.
MLB and its union came to an agreement March 26 that players would forfeit 1/162 of their salaries for each game lost as a result of the pandemic. But per The Athletic, “both parties understood that the deal was premised on playing in stadiums with fans and the agreement makes that clear.”
If league officials decide they want to begin the season playing without fans—an idea endorsed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—they may ask the union to return to the bargaining table.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark responded Monday with a strong statement in opposition of further cuts in player salaries.
“Players recently reached an agreement with Major League Baseball that outlines economic terms for resumption of play, which included significant salary adjustments and a number of other compromises. That negotiation is over,” Clark said.
No timeline or specific plan has been outlined that would explain how or when a season would be played. Until then, the league and its union have several obstacles to iron out before players can take the field again.
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