MLB offers 76-game season with more pay cuts, players balk

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Billionaires vs. millionaires isn’t an event fans want to see.

The public would enjoy a baseball game, though. When that will happen is still a mystery thanks to a financial disagreement between Major League Baseball and its players. 

According to the Associated Press, baseball made an offer that features a 76-game season (fewer than the 82 originally proposed by baseball and the 114 desired by the players), expanded playoffs to as many as 16 games and the chance to earn 75% of the prorated salaries agreed upon in March. Only 50% of the prorated figures would be guaranteed during the regular season.

“There’s so much emotion flowing from both sides. They’re so angry at each other right now,” SNY baseball insider Andy Martino told SportsRadio 94WIP’s Joe Giglio Monday night.

“The basic disconnect here, which is a big one, is that the owners believe that there should be a negotiation for player pay for this season, and the players don’t,” Martino said.  

Baseball also conceded draft pick compensation during free agency, which could lead to more spending. Players who are high-risk for contracting the coronavirus could still get paid and receive service time if they chose to opt out of the season.

Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem wrote a letter to union negotiator Bruce Meyer which said, according to the Associated Press, “If the players desire to accept this proposal, we need to reach an agreement by Wednesday. While we understand that it is a relatively short time frame, we cannot waste any additional days if we are to have sufficient time for players to travel to spring training, conduct COVID-19 testing and education, conduct a spring training of an appropriate length, and schedule a 76-game season that ends no later than September 27. While we are prepared to continue discussion past Wednesday on a season with fewer than 76 games, we simply do not have enough days to schedule a season of that length unless an agreement is reached in the next 48 hours.”

It’s widely believed there will be baseball this season. The question is how long. ESPN reports the league can force a shorter schedule if no agreement on pay is met. 

Many would consider a significantly reduced schedule from the traditional 162-games as illegitimate.

If MLB and its players had been able to reach an agreement by now, baseball would have been lined up for July 4 weekend. It’s safe to say that is a beyond long shot, if not completely impossible.

“We’re now in a situation where you can almost consider each day as costing you a game,” Martino said. “An MLB person actually made, I thought, a pretty vivid point to me on Friday when he said, ‘This weekend we’re losing a three-game series.’”

The nationwide consensus is this is a bad look for the sport, which upset a lot of fans with the strike in 1994 that wiped out the World Series. The country is still in a pandemic, and there is civil unrest as millions are calling for racial and social equality. As this is happening, MLB and its players are bickering over millions of dollars. 

“A whole lot of problems that are more serious than what either of these sides are going through right now, that it’s going to be tough for the public to swallow (if no financial agreement is reached), and I don’t know if they’re totally getting that right now,” Martino said.

Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle admitted in a series of tweets that baseball maybe could help the country during these stressful times. However, he highlighted that the reason for standing their ground, in addition to health concerns, is to avoid setting a precedent.

It’s frustrating to have a public labor dispute when there’s so much hardship. I hate it. But we have an obligation to future players to do right by them. We want to play. We also have to make sure that future players won’t be paying for any concessions we make.

— Obi-Sean Kenobi Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) June 8, 2020 The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in December 2021.

Former Phillies slugger Greg Luzinski, during an interview for an upcoming episode of KYW's Philly Sports Playback, gave the perspective of a player.

“Once you start giving up stuff with negotiations coming up, it’s gonna to be tougher and tougher to gain it back.”

Meanwhile, America continues to wait for baseball as the warm, soon-to-be summer days roll on.​