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Max Scherzer’s loud message: ‘No reason to engage with MLB’ over pay cuts

Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

With familiar accuracy and midseason heat, Max Scherzer’s fastball buzzes just as well when aimed at Major League Baseball and not Major League Baseball players.

The star Nationals pitcher, one of eight high-ranking active players on the Players Association executive board, signaled the union has “no reason” to keep discussing finances with the owners after an offer they apparently deemed insulting, while calling for those owners to open their books about how much money they truly would be losing.

A day after MLB’s first economic proposal to start an abbreviated season alongside the coronavirus, in which player contracts were prorated and then shrunken on a sliding scale, so minimum-salary earners took marginal cuts and the highest-paid players would be decimated, Scherzer said players should not have to take addition pay cuts.

In the late March agreement between players and owners, the two sides agreed to prorate the contracts, so an 82-game season would involve them receiving about half their pacts. The owners believe further discussions were in order because the pandemic will not allow fans into games.

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” Scherzer wrote on Twitter late Wednesday. “We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.”

Scherzer calling out “the current information the union has received” is a reference to the owners refusing to open their books to the players, while stating they would lose enormously even if a season were to be played. Without a season, commissioner Rob Manfred has said the hits could amount to $4 billion.

Meanwhile, MLB, in its first offer, laid out the hits to the players, whose contracts are publicly known, and thus whose losses would be known. In the most extreme cases, a player like Mike Trout would see his $36 million turn into about $8 million. The players also would be the ones putting themselves — and their families — at risk, which is difficult to accept even when receiving full salaries.

The negotiations are still in their beginning stages and expected to spill into early June. Yet, the optimism that abounded a few days ago has been punctured, and players are angry after believing an economic deal already was agreed upon.

“Its about honor a contract that players committed to,” former Giant and current Red Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar tweeted earlier Wednesday. “I’m held responsible for rent in Boston because I signed a contract. A global pandemic didn’t get me out of writing a check every month despite not being there.”

It appears unlikely the players will counter the owners’ proposal. Scherzer’s heat has been thrown, and now it’s back in the owners’ hands to see if they can find a deal that they and the union can accept.


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