We should be talking about Spring Training 2.0 this week and a season starting around July 4.
Instead, we have ... nothing. Well, just a little more than nothing. Here’s something that happened Monday morning:
MLB has made proposal to Players. 75 percent Prorated salary. 76 game season. Playoff pool money. No draft pick compensation for signing player. Season finishes September 27th. Post season ends at end of October. Significant move towards players demands and effort to play more.— Karl Ravech (@karlravechespn) June 8, 2020
At first blush, this seems like it might indeed be something. After all, owners said they wouldn’t counteroffer the players’ last proposal, and this is... a counteroffer.
Here’s one of various reactions from national writers, and I tend to agree:
The MLBPA regards today’s offer from MLB to be worse than the league’s last because it shifts greater emphasis on risk sharing in the postseason. Players would receive 50 percent of pro rata if there is no postseason, 75 if there is. @karlravechespn first on a new offer coming.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 8, 2020
Owners might also have decided to make this offer because back in March, they agreed to bargain “in good faith” if conditions were such that games would have to be played in front of no fans, which appears to be the case. If no such bargaining took place, players might have a good case for a grievance they could win.
Here’s a better breakdown of what players would be paid in the latest proposal:
- 82 games at sliding scale = ~33% salary— Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) June 8, 2020
- 50 games at prorated pay = ~33% salary
- 76 games at 75% prorated pay = (drumroll) ~33% salary
It all comes back to the same place. MLB keeps making the same offer in different forms. https://t.co/DVfURfN50f
And further to the idea that owners are simply posturing:
Thinking about it, this is probably a tactical offer. A fake effort at "meeting the players halfway" (which it isn't) so that if they do decide to impose the 48-game schedule they can say "we had no choice! we tried to deal!"— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) June 8, 2020
Craig is probably correct. However, since an offer has been made to players, they should absolutely counter-offer. That also protects them in case a grievance is filed, they don’t want to be accused of not bargaining in good faith.
What I continue to fail to understand is this: Owners claim they have a cash-flow problem. We’re never going to know for certain whether this is true or not because owners are never going to open their books. But let’s assume for the sake of argument that this is true. In that case, the players should ask for full pro-rated salaries, with a portion deferred — maybe for up to three or four years — to help out with owners’ cash flow problems. If a proposal like that is rejected, then you will know that “cash flow” isn’t really the issue here.
And this is bad:
At this point, it’s looking more and more like we should probably be thinking Aug. 1 Opening Day for 50-game regular season. https://t.co/Zzm35RGBtF— David Lennon (@DPLennon) June 8, 2020
And this is worse:
MLB is not describing this latest offer as a last offer. But are standing by the 3/26 agreement that it says allows Commish Manfred to start a season as long as at full prorated. That would be 50 games probably. That is becoming more real as time runs out on more games.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 8, 2020
The warning I posted from former Commissioner Fay Vincent earlier this morning about dividing the players is still valid:
“It cannot be done. It’s the same thing I told the owners in 1994 (before the strike) “if you shut the game down, you’re going to war with the union and that union cannot be broken,” Vincent said. “It looks like it’s 1994 all over again. I don’t think anyone has learned their lesson.”
The owners, in particular, have not learned their lesson. In my view, they are to blame for this impasse. They ought to set up that 76-game season and pay the players full pro-rated salaries. Period.
Get it done. Play ball.