There will be so much to dig in on this when more details and reactions are out, but for tonight, it’s the rough outline of the players’ proposal to the owners for the season.
As expected, it’s an aggressive ask by the players, as you’ll see. A whole lot of games to try to fit into a short window of time, and the financial assist being offered by the players comes in the form of deferred salary, but (1) it’s a relatively small amount, and (2) is deferred only if the postseason winds up cancelled. Moreover, in addition to the prorated salaries the players have been seeking, they would like a much longer regular season than the owners proposed:
• Deferral would be ONLY if the postseason is canceled. Would apply to contracts of $10 million above (before being prorated). Payments would be in November 2021 and 2022.
• Either way, players would get additional salary advance during spring training camp of $100 million.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 1, 2020
The MLBPA delivered a proposal to MLB on Sunday afternoon, a source familiar with it tells ESPN. It includes 114-game season that would end October 31, the right to opt out of the season for all players and potential deferral of salaries if 2020 the postseason were canceled.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 1, 2020
The inclusion of potential deferrals by players is an olive branch, even if it does apply just to a canceled postseason.
It would defer $100M total, applied to players making $10M+ before proration, and would do so with interest to make players whole. It opens the door to more.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 1, 2020
Although this is aggressive, you can arguably see some angles in here for negotiation. Perhaps the players can be more flexible on the deferrals, and perhaps they will accept a smaller season. And I would think both sides would be into the expanded postseason for this and next year. In exchange, maybe this is the opportunity for the owners to suck it up and give the prorated salaries.
Speaking of the length of the season, I think you run into a whole lot of risk trying to cram that many games into four months. You’re talking about, what, like 10 off-days total in the entire season? Unless you do a whole lot of doubleheaders, which I suspect the owners won’t be as into. In any case, by playing through October before you get to the postseason, you add to the risk that a second wave of COVID-19, combined with the flu season, could really put a strain on completing things. Feels like that part of the proposal is going to have to change, regardless of the finances.
The opt-out provision, to me, is a no-brainer. You have to protect players who are high-risk, and take care of them financially. And for any other player that chooses not to play, they must be allowed to do it. By giving them at least their service time, you don’t unduly punish them for feeling uncomfortable playing at this time (whatever their personal circumstances).
I do wonder if teams would push back on that service time, though. To me, it feels like the right balance, but I could see some teams saying it creates a bad incentive for certain players to sit out (i.e., players near free agency, players who don’t make much salary). Not sure about that. We’ll have to see what they say.
That said, I’m hopeful overall.
I’m not saying I’m *optimistic* yet, but I’m hopeful. Now we await the round of reactions from anonymous owners and MLB execs about what an egregiously bad proposal this is, etc., etc.
UPDATE: I’d laugh, since it’s so right on cue, but it’s annoying as shit, so I will not laugh:
“Non starter,” is the way one ownership person responded to the players’ response. The good news; There’s probably still a week to figure this out.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 1, 2020
I mean, I guess obviously it is a “non-starter” in the sense that the players could not possibly have thought the owners would just straight up accept this proposal. But it’s a “starter” in the sense that it sets an outer limit, on one side, against which the parties can now have some negotiations. Can they just get a couple leaders on each side in a room with a mediator and hammer the dang thing out this week?