The long-awaited economic negotiations have begun. That about covers the positive news.
Major League Baseball offered its first proposal to the Players Association regarding how the two parties can divvy up the financials in an abbreviated season, the league confirmed.
According to various reports, MLB has suggested the highest-paid players in the league take substantial pay cuts, part of a sliding pay scale in which all players take haircuts but the lowest-compensated ones receive close to their full, prorated amounts.
“We made a proposal to the union that is completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport,” the league, which said it could lose up to $4 billion without a season, said in a statement Tuesday. “We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA.”
Under this proposal, according to ESPN, a player making $35 million — so, roughly Mike Trout or Gerrit Cole — would make about $7.8 million. That would mean the $35 million was cut in half because of the half number of games. The top of the market then would get hit the hardest, a 45 percent trim bringing the total to about $7.8 million. For the Giants, Buster Posey and Johnny Cueto are due about $21 million this season, followed by Jeff Samardzija’s $18 million, Brandon Belt’s $16M and Brandon Crawford’s and Evan Longoria’s $15M. No one on the team would be making double-digit millions.
The union has argued the financial pact was struck in late March, when the two sides agreed to prorate the salaries without the additional contract hits. With games occurring without fans, though, the owners believe they had positioned themselves for a renegotiated deal to offset the losses.
The early response from Tuesday’s discussions has not been positive, the union reportedly “disappointed” in the amount of cuts the league is proposing. On the surface, it would seem as if the league wants fissures in the union, which will need to argue for another collective bargaining agreement after next season. There is such a wide swath of contracts involved, from a minimum of $563,500 per season to Trout’s and Cole’s deals, that targeting the top of the market is good PR for the league and could lead to disagreements within the union.
Though the financial discussions have not started with harmony, they never were going to start with harmony: This is how negotiations work. The league would like spring training 2.0 to begin about June 10, meaning a soft deadline for a deal to be agreed to would be June 1. So the league and union have about a week to keep pushing the other until the heads can no longer butt.