While Major League Baseball continues to eye starting its season by July 4, time is beginning to run out for a deal to be reached between the players and owners.
Now, it appears as if the owners are willing to risk it all.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, there is a group of MLB owners “perfectly willing” to move forward without a season if the players’ union cannot reach an agreement that would include additional pay cuts.
“Sources say there is a group of owners perfectly willing to shut down the season, to slash payroll costs and reduce losses, and the disparate views among the 30 teams have been reflected in the decisions to fire and furlough. The Pirates' Bob Nutting used the shutdown as an avenue to suspend team contributions to employee 401K plans -- savings best measured monthly in the tens of thousands of dollars rather than the millions that would actually be difference-making for a franchise probably worth at least $1 billion. The Oakland Athletics' John Fisher decided to eliminate the $400 weekly salaries of minor leaguers, which might save the franchise about the amount of the team's unpaid stadium rental bill. On the other hand, clubs such as the Tigers, Padres and Royals demonstrated greater humanity, with the Royals' John Sherman deciding to pay his minor leaguers.”
The owners and MLBPA had agreed to prorated salaries and an advance of $170 million to be split among the players through the first two months of the season.
Last week, the owners proposed a sliding pay scale to compensate the players, which would pay the lowest-earning players nearly their entire prorated salaries, while the highest-earning players would be taking significant pay cuts.
For example, a player like Gerrit Cole – who signed a monster contract that would pay him $36 million this season – would be paid only $8 million.
The sliding scale was an alternative to sharing the league revenue, which the players’ union was adamantly opposed to for a number of reasons.
Still, players are drawing a hard line in refusing to take further cuts than what was already agreed to in March.
While things look bleak, others point to the fact that there is too much money involved on both sides to throw away the entire 2020 season.
Yet, as the calendar turns to June, an agreement on a season would need to transpire rather fast.