Jun 8, 2020
- ESPN MLB insider
Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
Major League Baseball’s latest proposal to players on a return-to-play economic package offered a higher potential salary than the last plan but less guaranteed money over a 76-game season.
Players and officials at the MLB Players Association quickly scoffed at the proposal, which was obtained by ESPN, continuing the gridlock that has prevented MLB from returning after a coronavirus-related delay to the beginning of its season.
If the sides are unable to agree to a deal, the league has the ability to implement a schedule of its desired length. It has focused recently on a potential 48-game season, sources told ESPN.
MLB’s proposal, delivered Monday morning, includes potential earnings that would cover up to 75% of players’ prorated salaries over a 76-game season — about $1.432 billion in total compensation. Of that, $989 million would be in straight salary and $443 million in money paid if the playoffs take place.
Because of fears of a second wave of the coronavirus, the league has said it wants to end the regular season Sept. 27 and have its postseason go no later than the end of October.
In its first proposal, MLB offered a similar proportion of prorated salary over an 82-game season but added only $200 million in potential playoff revenue — a total of $1.23 billion. The union rejected the offer and came back at the league with a 114-game season at full pro rata, which would have been for $2.87 billion in compensation and would have allowed the league to expand playoffs from 10 to 14 teams for the next two seasons. The league turned down that offer, leading to the current stalemate.
MLB’s latest proposal said that the playoffs could have up to eight teams per league, at MLB’s discretion.
In addition, individuals at high risk of contracting the coronavirus could opt out of the 2020 season and retain their salaries and service time.
MLB’s latest proposal would also get rid of direct draft-pick compensation, which has hindered the market of free agents tagged with qualifying offers and could be worth tens of millions this winter. Under the proposal, teams losing top free agents would reap a compensatory draft pick, but those signing the free agent would not be penalized by having to give up a top pick.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told ESPN’s Karl Ravech that he is waiting to get a consensus from the players on a counteroffer. Clark said he understands that 114 games will not happen, so a new proposal would not include that. He also said that there are some things in the owners’ proposal that would allow for discussion with the players.
The league has asked the union to return word by Wednesday, according to sources.
The lack of movement on a baseball season has frustrated both sides as they blew past a soft deadline of June 1 that would have allowed baseball to return by July 4.