MLB Offers 60-Game Schedule, Full Prorated Pay
NEW YORK (AP) — The financial feud between Major League Baseball and its players took a step toward an agreement that could lead to a pandemic-delayed season after Commissioner Rob Manfred traveled to Arizona to meet with players’ union head Tony Clark.
A day after the session, MLB made a new offer to the players’ association Wednesday that called for full prorated pay even if games are played in empty ballparks, a person familiar with the plan told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details were not announced.
MLB’s offer included a 60-game schedule starting about July 19 that would result in players receiving about 37% of their salaries. That would come to roughly $1.48 billion from salaries originally totaling $4 billion.
The union’s last offer on June 9 was for an 89-game schedule at full prorated pay, which would result in 55% of salaries and about $2.2 billion.
Top stars Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole would each get about $13.33 million under MLB’s latest plan and $19.78 million under the union proposal. A player with a $1 million salary would get $370,370 under the club plan and $549,383 under the players’ proposal. The $563,500 minimum would be worth $208,704 under MLB’s plan and $309,577 under the union’s.
MLB also wants the union to waive additional claims. Both sides have proposed expanding the playoffs from 10 teams to 16 in 2020 and 2021 if there is an agreement but have not defined the wild-card round’s format.
“At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix,” Manfred said in a statement. “We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents.
“I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today,” Manfred added. “Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the clubs to move forward, and I trust Tony is doing the same.”
The union did not comment on the new proposal. Players could counter with a higher amount of games.
Before this week, Manfred and Clark had not met since March 13-14 in Arizona, the two days after spring training was suspended due to the new coronavirus.
Baseball has deteriorated into labor strife while the NBA, NHL and MLS have moved forward with restart plans.
While baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the sides have negotiated four straight labor contracts without interrupting play. But tensions have increased in recent years, with the union losing a grievance accusing the Chicago Cubs of manipulating third baseman Kris Bryant’s service time to delay his free agency and filing a grievance accusing several clubs of failing to properly use their revenue sharing money.
Players have accused several noncompetitive teams of “tanking.” Clubs say they have the right to jettison veterans and redirect resources to rebuilding.
And the average salary has remained in the $4.4 million range for five straight seasons, stagnating after Clark led his first labor negotiations as successor to the late Michael Weiner.
Amid that backdrop, and with the prospect of collective bargaining to replace the current labor deal that expires on Dec. 1, 2021, tensions ratcheted up when the virus struck.
The sides reached a deal on March 26 that called for players to receive prorated pay, $170 million in salary advances and a guarantee of service time even if no games are played this year. In exchange, players waived claims for additional pay, giving up a right to test whether Manfred could successfully invoke the provision in Uniform Player Contracts allowing him to suspend those contracts during a national emergency.
When it became apparent the season would have to start in empty ballparks without fans, MLB told the union on May 12 that teams would combine to lose $640,000 for each additional regular-season game, claiming 40% of revenue is gate and gate-related. The union challenged MLB’s figures and asked for additional documentation.
MLB then made its first economic proposal May 26, offering an 82-game schedule and saying additional pay cuts were needed. Players refused to entertain additional cuts and asked for 119 games. MLB then moved to 76 games and then 72 last week, reworking the finances but still refusing full prorated pay. While the union wants to extend the postseason into November, MLB says it fears a second wave of the virus in the autumn would jeopardize $787 million in broadcast revenue.
Players cut off talks Saturday, a day after MLB’s last proposal, and said additional negotiations were futile. Players told MLB to unilaterally set the schedule but Manfred said MLB would not while there was a threat of a grievance.