Players Counter with 70 Games, Manfred Says Deadline Nearing
NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball players proposed a 70-game regular-season schedule Thursday, a plan immediately rejected by baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred with the sides 10 games and about $275 million apart on plans to start the coronavirus-delayed season.
As part of the union proposal, players would wear advertisement patches on their uniforms during all games for the first time in major league history.
“This need to be over,” Manfred said. “Until I speak with owners, I can’t give you a firm deadline.”
While the gap has narrowed, both sides remain opposed to additional concessions and the path toward an agreement remains uncertain and difficult.
“We delivered to Major League Baseball today a counter-proposal based on a 70-game regular season which, among a number of issues, includes expanded playoffs for both 2020 and 2021,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement. “We believe this offer represents the basis for an agreement on resumption of play.”
After Manfred met with Clark in Arizona, MLB said Wednesday that there was a framework for the season. That plan included a 60-game regular-season schedule that would have $1.48 billion in salaries plus a $25 million players’ postseason pool, people familiar with that proposal told The Associated Press.
“In my discussions with Rob in Arizona we explored a potential pro rata framework, but I made clear repeatedly in that meeting and after it that there were a number of significant issues with what he proposed, in particular the number of games,” Clark said. “It is unequivocally false to suggest that any tentative agreement or other agreement was reached in that meeting. In fact, in conversations within the last 24 hours, Rob invited a counter-proposal for more games that he would take back to the owners. We submitted that counter-proposal today.”
Manfred said Clark called him Wednesday night and said he was not going to present the framework to the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee.
“I told him 70 games was simply impossible given the calendar and the public health situation, and he went ahead and made that proposal anyway,” Manfred said.
The union proposal would have $1.73 billion in salaries, plus a $50 million postseason pool, people familiar with that plan said.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcements of the details were made.
MLB’s plan would have players receive about 37% of salaries that originally totaled $4 billion, and the union’s proposal would have them get roughly 43%.
Both MLB and the union proposed starting the season on July 19, and players said it should end Sept. 30, three days later than management.
Players said pitchers and catchers should report for the resumption of spring training on June 26, followed two days later by position players.
Baseball’s postseason would expand from 10 teams to 16 this year, and the two wild-card games would transform into eight best-of-three series. That would create a minimum of 14 new playoff games whose broadcast rights could be sold, and MLB would have the option of 14 or 16 postseason teams in 2021.
Manfred said MLB would give the additional playoffs games to broadcast partners for free this year to make up for the shortened regular season and MLB would sell the games for 2021. Players proposed they split broadcast revenue 50-50 from the additional 2021 games.
They also would allow MLB to move postseason games this year to neutral sites if needed because of the coronavirus.
Both sides would expand use of the designated hitter to games involving National League teams, and both sides would expand the playoffs to 16 teams this year and 14 or 16 in 2021, with the final decision at MLB’s discretion.
The luxury tax would be suspended for 2020, which with a 70-game schedule projects to save the Yankees $9.95 million, Houston $1.52 million, the Dodgers $506,000 and the Cubs $135,000. At 60 games, New York is projected to save $8.5 million, the Astros $1.3 million, the Dodgers $434,000 and the Cubs $116,000.
Players with so-called split contracts, who get paid at a lower salary rate when sent to the minor leagues, would not have to repay the advance they already received: $16,500, $30,000 or $60,000, depending on their contract, for a total of about $33 million.
MLB would contribute $10 million to social justice initiatives from funds not needed this year for the welfare plan used for health benefits.
Players would allow $50 million to be transferred to the commissioner’s discretionary fund from the international tax fund collected from teams that exceeded their signing bonus pools.
As part of a deal, both sides would waive claims against each other.