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OC Register: MLB players reportedly want more games, no further salary cuts

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A day after Max Scherzer symbolically whistled a fastball past the heads of Major League Baseball owners, there was little public indication that the two sides had gotten any closer to a deal that would allow the sport to return this summer.

On Wednesday night, Scherzer, a member of the executive committee of Players’ Assn., tweeted that players saw no reason to negotiate further salary cuts, as the owners had proposed.

Players instead intended to submit a proposal to the owners that would call for a return with more games, according to multiple reports.

Deferrals could also be a solution that would allow the players to collect their expected salaries while allowing owners relief from the short-term cash flow issues created by games without the revenue of ticket sales.

Both sides would like to have a pre-season training period start in mid-June and games begin around July 4, which likely would require an agreement within the first few days of June.

Although there have been some reported differences between the sides on the health and safety measures required to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the primary stumbling block appears to be money.

Owners on Tuesday submitted an offer to the players that would reduce their salaries on a sliding scale, with the highest paid players taking the largest cuts. While players making the minimum would see their salaries cut by about 8 percent, those at the top of the scale would lose about 56 percent.

Those cuts would be on top of the pro-rated losses they players have already accepted simply by virtue of playing fewer games. The current proposal of an 82-game season would leave players earning half of their normal salary for 162 games.

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players, there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” Scherzer wrote.

Scherzer added that MLB’s position would “completely change if all documentation were to become public information.”

Players are skeptical of the owners’ contention that they would lose more money by playing than not playing if they have to pay players their full pro-rated salaries without being able to sell tickets to the games.

Players will reportedly counter with an offer to play more games, up to 100 or 110. That could allow both sides to make more money if games later in the year could be played with fans.

Pushing the regular season back into October and the postseason into November could risk postseason games being lost to a second wave of coronavirus. MLB generates the largest portion of its TV revenue from the postseason.

One suggestion for a bridge to the differences would be deferring player salaries. It could be possible for players to still earn their full pro-rated salaries, but to have portions of that money deferred, with interest, into future seasons.

The sides already agreed to defer portions of bonuses paid in the draft, which will be held next month.

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