Major League Baseball wants to return to action in July, but the process could be long and contentious.
On Monday the owners agreed on a 82-game schedule where teams use their home parks, only play teams in their division and geographical vicinity, and use a universal designated hitter rule. But those are the easy details.
The hard ones focus on player safety and the cost of that risk. MLB is proposing a 50-50 split of revenue, and the Players Association isn't having it, accusing the owners of trying to strong-arm a salary cap.
"The league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they've failed to achieve in the past, and to anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days suggests they know exactly how this will be received," MLBPA director Tony Clark told The Athletic Monday.
Those words Monday led many to fear that league and players won't find mutual ground. ESPN analyst and former big leaguer Mark Teixeira said he wasn't confident at all that a deal would get done.
"I think there are so many issues we need to figure out, and forget about the monetary issues with the revenue split. We don't know if we can safely open up these ballparks and actually hold baseball games. It's not just the players at risk," he said on Get Up Tuesday.
Tuesday the league pitched its plan to the MLBPA. MLB Network's Jon Heyman said the conversation was focused on safety and said the league is confident it can test players adequately.
MLB does believe they will be able to acquire adequate testing, which is an absolute necessity to make this work. Without enough testing, they won’t play.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 12, 2020
Heyman reports that the Players Association didn't even counter the 50-50 revenue share.
MLB and the players union talked a lot about the most important issue today — health and safety. There was talk about protocols, logistics and especially testing. There was economic talk as well but no proposal about revenue sharing or salary reductions yet.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 12, 2020
But that will change. This will be a give and take process; the Players Association will make an argument based on their March agreement with the league, who said it would prorate contracts. Tuesday the league said it will lose more money by prorating rather than not playing at all.
MLB’s position is that it will lose more money if they play games without fans and pay prorated salaries than if they don’t play at all. Thus, owners are saying they will not pay pro-rated salaries.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 13, 2020
But that coin looks different for players who will get paid, or not paid if the season doesn't happen. Those on the lower end of the pay scale will be more motivated to work, even at a pay cut. Like Teixeira would add Monday, a little money is better than none.
"Players need to understand that if they turn this deal down and shut the sport down, they're not making a cent," he said. "I would rather make pennies on the dollar and give hope to people and play baseball than not make anything and lose an entire year off their career."
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