MLBPA Proposal Seen As Progress, But Still Tough Sell For Owners
The MLBPA in a video conference yesterday delivered a proposal to MLB for a 114-game season to be played June 30-Oct. 31, according to a source. The union's proposal adopts the compensation agreement the two sides made in March for players to get full prorated portions of their salaries based on games played. MLB had more recently proposed an 82-game season with progressively higher salary cuts for players with higher salaries. The players' proposal gives clubs relief in the case that the playoffs are canceled due to a second wave of the coronavirus or for any other reason. If that happens, players who were scheduled to make $10M or more in a normal year will have a portion deferred, with interest. Players also will be given relief if they decide not to play based on the risk of the pandemic. Players who are themselves or have immediate family members who are high-risk can choose not to play and receive full salary and service time. Players who do not have risk factors can choose not to play and still receive service time, but no salary. The proposal also includes two years of expanded playoffs, which would include additional teams, and could provide additional revenue for owners and extra games for fans (Liz Mullen, THE DAILY).
A PATH FORWARD? In L.A., Bill Shaikin writes the offer is "almost certainly a nonstarter for owners." Still, if the two sides "shift the argument from the language in the March 26 agreement to a dispute over percentage of salary, there could be a path toward a compromise" (L.A. TIMES, 6/1). In Boston, Peter Abraham notes the union proposal putting deferments on the table "could be where the sides find common ground in the coming days." There is "no deadline on the talks, but to open the season in late June or early July, teams would have start workouts by approximately June 10" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/1). On Long Island, David Lennon writes the proposal "represents some progress," as "at least the dialogue is moving forward." But MLB has been "adamant about seeking further pay reductions, and it’s unclear just how much the owners are willing to bend on that topic" (NEWSDAY, 6/1). ESPN's Buster Olney said despite the gap separating the two sides, it is “absolutely possible” for an agreement to be reached, because the “consequences are almost unthinkable for baseball” if they fail. Olney: “If there’s no baseball in 2020, (MLB) would spin into a long cycle of labor strike. The same questions would still be there next spring" ("Get Up," ESPN, 6/1).
BIG-TIME LETDOWN: In N.Y., Ken Davidoff writes maybe MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark and their deputies can "wiggle their way out of this collective-bargaining impasse in the next week." But even if that occurs, the "scars of these past two months will linger" because during this "time of unprecedented pain, sacrifice and divisiveness, MLB has not honored its self-stated role as a social institution" (N.Y. POST, 6/1). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan wrote if the owners and players "can’t reach an agreement, baseball may be in a unique kind of trouble," as MLB will have "cleared the way for the NHL and NBA to dominate the summer, and for the NFL to play without any competition from baseball’s postseason this fall" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/31). ESPN Radio's Mike Golic said, “If you’re talking about starting at the end of June, you better damn well get this deal done in the next week" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 6/1).
A NATION IN NEED: In Newark, Bob Klapisch wrote MLB at present is "at the edge of the cliff, ready to go crashing into the abyss." Klapisch: "Only a few more days before time runs out and the season gets canceled. That’s when baseball gets stripped of its beloved title -- America’s pastime -- and becomes the nation’s joke" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/31). In Boston, Tara Sullivan wrote right now, baseball is "letting the nation down, unable even in this time of crisis to keep its ugliest squabbles private" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/31).
OVER IT: In Denver, Patrick Saunders wrote the owners are "winning the PR battle right now because MLB tends to speak with one, unified voice." They "seem to provide a clear, straightforward message." Regardless, a lot of fans, "eager to see baseball again, don’t want to deal with the complexities of the financial battle between the MLB Players Association and the owners" (DENVER POST, 5/31). ESPN’s Mark Teixeria said said both sides of this debate "have really good points.” Teixeria: “When both sides feel like they have the moral high ground that’s the issue" ("Get Up," ESPN, 6/1).