MLB 2020 season negotiations: League’s new economic proposal leaves union ‘disappointed,’ reports say

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) are now in their third week of negotiations concerning the possibility of playing a condensed 2020 season around the spread of COVID-19. While league insiders have expressed optimism to CBS Sports in recent days about the chances for an agreement being reached, arguably the biggest hurdle remaining entails the two sides reaching a deal on player salary.

On Tuesday, the owners reportedly approved a proposal that was then shipped to the union. Although their original intent was to put a 50-50 revenue sharing plan on the table, the owners instead are said to have asked the players to sign off on a “sliding scale of compensation.” This plan would trim the salaries of players set to make the most money in 2020, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Revenue sharing, as it turns out, is not mentioned in the proposal, per Nightengale’s report.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports the highest-paid players would receive “perhaps less than 40% of their full-season salaries.” While players making the league minimum might get all or most of their prorated salary (based on the number of games on the 2020 schedule), Passan notes that “the possibility of all players having to take a reduction is part of the league’s proposal.”

Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds the sliding scale will include several tiers between the top earners and those making the league minimum. Sherman also says the proposal includes an escalator based on postseason revenue.

The idea of a revenue-share system was a nonstarter for the union, and this plan doesn’t seem to be going over much better. The Players Association was “very disappointed” in the new proposal and the union says owners are asking for “massive” additional pay cuts, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich

Over the weekend, The Athletic reported that the union intended to propose deferred payments on prorated salaries, with the exact figure hinging on how many games were played during the modified season. It stands to reason the two sides could compromise by agreeing to a sliding scale of compensation that would see the highest salaries reduced this season and paid back later through deferred payments. Sherman says MLB‘s and the MLBPA’s next negotiation session is not yet scheduled.

MLB was originally scheduled to launch its season exactly two months ago, on March 26. The spread of COVID-19 across the country forced the league to scrap those plans two weeks prior. The prevalent school of thought is that the two sides would like to have an agreement in place sooner than later, with an eye on beginning a second “spring” training in June and the regular season sometime in early July. The postseason, meanwhile, would likely conclude no later than early November. 

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