By Sam Bush
MLB’s players will propose more regular-season games this year while holding to their demand for full prorated salaries, people familiar with their deliberations told The Associated Press.
Nats pitcher Max Scherzer, among eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee, issued a statement late last night calling management’s proposal for more salary cuts a non-starter.
A day after Major League Baseball proposed a sliding scale of salary slashing for a pandemic-delayed season with an 82-game schedule in ballparks without fans, the union held a conference call yesterday that included its executive board, player representatives and alternate player representatives, the people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.
Scherzer, among the sport’s highest-paid players, confirmed the call without divulging who was on it.
”After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no need to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter. ”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,” he added, ”and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.”
It was unclear when the union will respond to MLB’s plan, the people said.
Stars Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole would lose the most under MLB’s plan, about 77% of the $36 million each they were set to be paid this season. In all, there are 133 players whose contracts call for salaries of $10 million or more, not including shares of signing bonuses.
A big leaguer earning $1 million or less would keep at least 43% of his salary under the six-tier scale. That includes a share of $200 million earmarked for players that is contingent on the postseason being completed. About 460 of approximately 900 players on rosters and injured lists when spring training was stopped in mid-March due to the new coronavirus make $1 million or less.
Trout and Cole would be cut to about $8 million each. Colorado’s Nolan Arenado would drop from $35 million to $7.84 million.
”Interesting strategy of making the best most marketable players potentially look like the bad guys,” Milwaukee pitcher Brett Anderson tweeted.
The players’ association called the proposal ”extremely disappointing.” The union has argued players already accepted a cut to prorated shares of their salaries in a March 26 agreement and should not have to bargain again.
MLB would like to start the season around the Fourth of July in empty ballparks and proposed an 82-game regular season. It claims teams would lose billions of dollars by playing with no ticket money and gate-related revenue.
”This season is not looking promising,” New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman tweeted. ”Keeping the mind and body ready regardless.”
Union head Tony Clark has not commented publicly on MLB’s proposal and has said very little publicly since late March. Agent Scott Boras has repeatedly criticized MLB for proposing more salary reductions and has questioned the accuracy of management’s financial claims.
”Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs,” Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted Wednesday. ”If true – and at this point, these are only rumors – I have one thing to say… Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.”
Boras declined to comment on Bauer’s remarks.
”Working together to manage the public health issue has brought great solidarity among the players,” Boras said earlier in the day. ”They are a strong united front and resolute in their support of the MLBPA.”
A season with more than 82 games would lead to players earning a higher percentage of their original salaries. MLB says that without fans each additional game would result in a $640,000 loss.
Brewers chairman Mark Attanasio told the Greater Milwaukee Committee on Tuesday ”the be-careful-what-you-wish-for part is hours every day.”
”It’s got to come together very quickly or we won’t be able to, we will just run out of time,” he said. ”To pay players at a full contract rate, pretty much 90% of that would go to pay them and wouldn’t cover any other costs.”