MLB and MLBPA have spent the last two months mostly arguing, going back and forth trying to come to an agreement to get the 2020 season underway. The only thing that has been evidently more important than the game itself: the money.
Jeff Passan answers the questions we are all wondering, like is there even going to be a 2020 season?
The answer relies on if the union and MLB can come to an agreement about the pro rata salaries, and the number of games Manfred will ultimately decide to play this season. In the most recent offer from MLB, it’s 72 games.
Bruce Meyer, the union’s lead negotiator, wrote in a letter: “If it is your intention to unilaterally impose a season, we again request that you inform us and our members of how many games you intend to play and when and where players should report. It is unfair to leave players and the fans hanging at this point, and further delay risks compromising health and safety. We demand that you inform us of your plans by close of business on Monday, June 15.”
Passan breaks down the owners concerns of revenue loss due to no fans in the stands, which affects the owner’s ability to pay the players their full salaries. However, the players don’t benefit when revenue is coming in, so why should they be punished when it is not.
So is there any hope for baseball?
A longtime executive of MLB thinks there is, but “It has to die, and then it will come back.” Meaning, if there is no 2020 season folks, don’t be surprised. The league and the union need to realize what’s actually at stake here, and it’s not the numbers — it’s the fans and the players.
Ken Rosenthal’s take on the negotiations is that Rob Manfred has a choice to make: to make the players happy or the owners happy.
Since the March agreement, it’s been evident that Manfred is on the side of the owners, and why wouldn’t he be — they’re his boss. Manfred has struggled connecting with players in the past (let’s not forget when he called the World Series trophy a “piece of metal.”)
Rosenthal puts things into perspective, something hopefully MLB and MLBPA can do: “Look, we know every club is taking a hit financially, but we can’t engage in tunnel vision, can’t lose sight of the big picture, can’t let our actions reflect badly on our sport?”
The first step for the parties to reach an agreement is to actually start negotiating. It’s been angry letters back and forth since the March agreement. They need to settle the pay structure and the games for the season so we can return to play.
Patrick Saunders helps draw attention to the people that are really affected by this: the players. The agreement that was made on March 26 stated that MLB has a right to hold a season (most likely 48-54 games) and players would be paid 100 percent of their prorated salaries, with or without fans in the stands.
It’s not the players that are holding back the negotiations, the players want to PLAY.
A Rockies player who asked to remain anonymous said, “As players, we’ve always been about playing as many games as possible, as long as it’s safe, but we don’t see that from the owners. Look, they are going to have the value of their franchise long after all of this is over, but they’re still worried we will come back at them and ask for more money. That’s not what we want. We want to play baseball by the terms we agreed to.”
Those terms are the March 26 agreement that was made in the wake of COVID-19.
The MLBPA and MLB, specifically Manfred, have a decision to make: have a 2020 season and sacrifice the revenue (and look to recoup it in the future) or don’t have a 2020 season and face an even bigger loss — the reputation of the sport.
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About Emily — Hey guys! I’m so excited to be joining the Purple Row team. I’m a Midwest transplant from Wisconsin who moved to Denver a little over a year ago. Baseball has always been a religion to me, and I’m pumped to be able to share it with you guys! When I’m not writing, I like to go on crazy nature adventures, and climb 14,000 ft mountains.
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