While the NHL and NBA have been hard at work hashing out the details of their expected returns amid the coronavirus, progress remains painfully slow on the MLB front with players and ownership struggling to find any semblance of a middle ground.
The latest proposal presented by owners calls for enormous pay cuts to high-earning veterans like Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole with younger players on their first contract receiving close to their prorated salaries. ESPN’s Jeff Passan provides a helpful breakdown of each salary tier:
Predictably, the players have largely dismissed the idea of sliding-scale pay cuts, with some seeing this as an attempt by owners to divide the players’ union ahead of the next collective bargaining agreement. WIP’s Joe Giglio crunched the numbers for some of the Phillies’ top earners including Bryce Harper, whose salary will shrink from $27.5 million ($26 million base with a $1.5 million signing bonus) to $6.5 million under the new proposal. Assuming an 82-game season, Harper’s full prorated salary would net him a hair under $14 million. Obviously, there’s an enormous discrepancy between the salary Harper and others feel they’re entitled to and what owners are willing to dish out.
Yankees newcomer Gerrit Cole, who reset the starting pitcher market by joining the Bombers on a nine-year, $324-million contract this past offseason, would earn just $8 million under the proposal submitted by owners.
This is how negotiations tend to go—one side swings for the fences, the other counters and eventually (in an ideal scenario) they meet somewhere in the middle. That’s probably what will happen here, though the current gap between MLB players and ownership, at least compared to other sports leagues plotting their returns from COVID-19, is concerning. While the other major sports have largely formed united fronts in their efforts to return from the coronavirus, MLB has not shared the same level of cooperation. Letting the season fall apart over money would reflect poorly on all parties, though you can’t blame players for seeing this initial offer as a slap in the face.