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OC Register: MLB, players reportedly far apart after first financial proposal for shortened season

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Major League Baseball officials submitted their first formal proposal to the players regarding the financial terms of the sport’s return to action on Tuesday, leaving the union disappointed, according to multiple reports.

Several outlets reported that the union leadership was unhappy with the owners’ proposal that players accept reduced salaries, with the highest paid players taking the biggest hits.

The sides likely have about a week to 10 days to iron out their differences if they are to reach an agreement in time to start the season around July 4, the date in the plan the owners had presented two weeks ago.

Owners initially floated the idea that players’ salaries would be capped at a predetermined percentage of the revenue, but players balked at that idea before it ever became a formal offer.

The latest offer, according to multiple reports, would not tie salaries to revenue, but instead have players accept reductions right off the bat. Rather than have all salaries cut by a flat percentage, the higher paid players would take bigger cuts, according to reports.

“We made a proposal to the union that is completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said. “We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA.”

In March, the sides agreed to a deal that would pay players a small percentage of their salaries in April and May, regardless of whether games were played, in exchange for players still receiving service time in 2020.

That deal also called for players to be paid a pro-rated portion of their full salaries based on the number of games played.

In an 82-game season, as has been proposed, all players would then make roughly half of their full salaries.

While players believe that agreement settled the issue of salaries, owners contend that agreement was contingent on games being played with fans in attendance.

As it now appears a foregone conclusion that the season would at least begin in empty ballparks, thereby slashing the teams’ revenue, owners are seeking further reductions in salaries.

Owners have contended that if they paid players their full salaries, even on a per-game basis, for games without fans, they would lose more money by playing than by not playing. If no games are played, owners would lose TV revenue but pay nothing in player salaries for the rest of the year.

Although the financial agreement seems to be the largest hurdle for the sport to resume, the two sides also must agree on the safety protocols that would allow players to return to action during the coronavirus pandemic.

A 67-page document detailing the testing, social distancing and cleaning procedures was sent from owners to the players earlier this month.

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