Major League Baseball is beginning planning for a 2020 season that would begin around July 1. In March, MLB owners and players made an agreement on salaries for 2020 that would provide $170 million to players if there’s no season, and pro-rated salaries depending on how many games are played if baseball is played this year.
Monday, it was revealed that there’s a possible revenue-sharing offer on the table, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
Major League Baseball owners, with an abundance of optimism that baseball will be played this year, are scheduled to vote on a plan Monday that will require teams to share at least 48% of their revenue with the Major League Baseball Players Association this season, two people with direct knowledge of the proposal told USA TODAY Sports.
The people, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were unauthorized to discuss details, said the historic revenue-sharing plan is integral to diminish revenue losses with games potentially being played without fans beginning in July. MLB officials say that teams are expected to lose about 40% of their gross revenue from ticket sales, concessions and parking.
This would be the first time in history that MLB clubs would be willing to share their revenue with players, although it’s common in other sports. In the NFL, players get 48% of revenue, and NBA players receive between 49% and 51% based on expected income.
What this would do to the previous agreement between players and owners is unclear. Players would likely insist that their salaries be paid on a pro-rated basis as agreed to in March. Whether “at least” 48 percent of revenues for 2020 would cover that remains to be seen. The 40 percent loss estimate noted by Nightengale seems right, with the balance of team revenues coming from local and national TV contracts and possibly from corporate sponsorships, though I think you can see how some companies might want to pull back from those in today’s economic climate.
Nightengale says this proposal could be presented to players as early as Monday evening.
In the USA Today article, Nightengale also noted some additional details of how a 2020 season could play out:
Training camps, as previously reported by USA TODAY Sports, will begin in June with an opening day set July 1-4. Teams will have the option of hosting spring training 2.0 at their home facilities or at their spring-training complexes in Arizona and Florida, with the hope that all teams can stage games at their own home ballparks during the season.
According to the two people, the traditional two-league- six-division structure will remain, but teams will only play opponents in their division and the corresponding geographical division from the other league. So a team such as the New York Yankees would play only against their AL East opponents and the NL East, while a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who weren’t scheduled to play the Houston Astros, now would play them at least six times.
If they’re going to play “Spring Training 2.0” at the complexes in Arizona and Florida, why not just use the Cactus/Grapefruit League proposal made last month? It is still far from clear whether ballparks in hard-hit coronavirus areas such as New York or Illinois would be permitted to be used even with no fans as early as July. Plus, the Blue Jays are subject to different laws in Ontario and Canada and might not be able to play in Toronto at all, which could put them at a competitive disadvantage if they’re the only team that has to play games at their spring park in Florida.
The schedule noted above would have the Cubs playing more games against the White Sox as well as the other AL Central teams (Indians, Royals, Tigers, Twins). The Cubs were originally scheduled to play interleague games against the AL East this year, but keeping these teams in “corresponding geographical” areas would reduce travel to some extent. As I have pointed out previously, even that setup would require long flights from Boston to Miami and Seattle to San Diego.
Here are some details from the USA Today article about how play and rosters would change:
They [owners] will also vote on whether to implement a universal DH, which likely will be necessary considering that interleague play will constitute about 40% of games.
The active rosters are expected to be inflated from 26 players to 30, with a 20-man taxi squad consisting mostly of an organization’s top minor-league players being available all season.
I would think that a universal DH would almost be a requirement for any 2020 season, due to the current situation. And with as many as 50 players available based on the 30-man roster and 20-man “taxi squad” noted above, player fatigue would not be an issue. I would assume the normal requirement of a player being “sent down” having to stay there at least 10 days would be waived this year.
The article also says the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium would be “postponed,” but under this scenario — with playoffs also expanded to 14 teams, per Nightengale — I don’t see how it could be played at all.
We seem to be edging closer to actually having an MLB season in 2020. Of course, as always, we await developments.
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