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Volume 26 No. 177
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Email Suggests MLBPA Was Aware Of Potential Compensation Changes

A March 26 conversation between MLB and the MLBPA in which the league "portrays the union as acknowledging that a new negotiation was needed regarding how players would be paid this season could serve as an email version of a smoking gun," according to Joel Sherman of the N.Y. POST. The union claims that within the agreement finalized on March 26, players are "guaranteed their prorated salaries for games played." But a March 26 email from an MLB lawyer to top league officials "documents the substance of talks between two MLB officials and two MLBPA officials from earlier that morning." The email "covers seven points, including that MLB explained to the union officials that MLB would need a second negotiation if games were not played in front of fans to determine pay and claims that union officials understood that concept." As such, the email "seemingly offers evidence that the union was aware that further talks were potentially necessary." The MLBPA's position has been that "not only does the March 26 document support its pro-rata position, but that MLB has not made a clear case to the union that it is not economically feasible to pay the players in full even without fans." The union "still is waiting for a formal financial proposal from MLB" (N.Y. POST, 5/20).

MULTIPLE CHOICE: MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported MLB in recent talks "gave the union 2 options." One is to "negotiate a new financial arrangement" -- something other than "prorated pay for players playing games with no fans in attendance." The second is to wait for the coronavirus to "clear to the point where fans can attend games." MLB has been "espousing a 50-50 revenue split behind the scenes but no formal proposal has been made to players yet." In any case, players do "seem very much resolved not to agree to a revenue sharing proposal on principle" (TWITTER.com, 5/19).

UNION STATION: The POST's Sherman reports more than 130 players "participated in a union-run conference call Monday night mainly to go over MLB’s 67-page health and safety proposal for restarting the season." All 30 clubs were "represented on the call, which was led" by MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark and Senior Dir of Collective Bargaining & Legal Bruce Meyer. The call "lasted more than three hours and players asked questions and offered suggestions during it" (N.Y. POST, 5/20).

GETTING POLITICAL: ESPN.com noted ultimately, baseball can play "only where it's welcome." At the national level, MLB is "in sync with the White House." Sources said that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has a "good relationship" with President Trump. Additionally, Yankees President Randy Levine was considered a candidate to be Trump's chief of staff. MLB officials "believe the president's support will be an asset." Still, the politics for MLB are "far from clear in several places." For example, in Toronto, the Blue Jays are under Canadian immigration restrictions for travel to the U.S. Domestically, these "lines of authority also vary from state to state." In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey has "thrown out a welcome mat for MLB." But in other states, the authority "resides with county health officials" (ESPN.com, 5/19).

FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARDOn Long Island, David Lennon writes MLB "says one thing," and the union "insists the opposite is true." Lennon: "We’ve seen this movie many times before. And now it’s happening again." But the "clock is ticking." Two weeks is "shorter than it sounds for hammering out a financial system that works for both sides, especially when they could not be further apart at the moment" (NEWSDAY, 5/20). In Pittsburgh, Paul Zeise writes of MLB's 67-page health-and-safety proposal, "How about no baseball in 2020 and check in again in 2021 to see if it is safe to play yet? If this is what it is going to take to have baseball, then it isn’t worth it. It isn’t even realistic to think all of this stuff can happen" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 5/20).