MLB players reaffirm wages, no deal with teams in sight

FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2019, file photo, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media at the owners meeting in Arlington, Texas. Major League Baseball rejected the players' offer for a 114-game regular season in the pandemic-delayed season with no additional salary cuts and told the union it did not plan to make a counterproposal, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday, June 3, 2020, because no statements were authorized.(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

NEW YORK (AP) Baseball players reaffirmed their position for a full pro rata reward, creating a huge gap with teams planning to start the coronavirus-delayed season around July 4 and potentially allowing owners to focus on a schedule of just 50 games.

More than 100 players, including the union’s executive board, held a two-hour digital meeting with officials from the Major League Baseball Players Association on Thursday, a day after the union’s offer was rejected by Major League Baseball.

“ Earlier this week, Major League Baseball announced its intention to schedule a drastically cut 2020 season unless players negotiate salary concessions, ” union leader Tony Clark said in a statement. “ The requested concessions are in addition to the billions already agreed for player salary cuts. This threat came in response to an association proposal aimed at defining a path forward. ”

“ Instead of participating, the league responded that it would shorten the season unless players agree to further salary cuts, ” added Clark.

Players were originally expected to earn approximately $ 4 billion in 2020 salaries, excluding guaranteed cash such as signing bonuses, severance pay and option buyouts. The union’s plan would bring that down to about $ 2.8 billion and management to about $ 1.2 billion plus a $ 200 million bonus pool when the postseason is complete.

MLB last week proposed an 82-game season with an additional sliding scale of pay cuts that would leave a player at the minimum of $ 563,500 with 47% of their original salary and top stars Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole at less than 22% of the $ 36 million they would earn.

Players went against a regular season plan of 114 games on Sunday, with no pay cuts beyond the pro rata salaries agreed on March 26. That would leave every player with about 70% of their original salary.

MLB rejected that Wednesday when Vice Commissioner Dan Halem wrote in a letter to union leader negotiator Bruce Meyer informing him: “ We have no reason to believe that a negotiated solution for an 82-game season is possible. ”

“ Nevertheless, the commissioner is committed to baseball in 2020, ” said Halem in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press. “ He’s been talking to owners about stepping up a shorter season with no fans. ”

Management officials have said they are considering a slate of maybe 50 games or less. There has been no schedule since 1879 with an average of less than 82 games per team.

“ The overwhelming consensus of the board is that players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and willing to do this in unprecedented circumstances that affect the health and safety of not only themselves, but also could affect their families. Well, ” said Clark in a statement. “ The league’s demand for additional concessions was firmly rejected. ”

Baseball’s March 26 deal allows games if there are no government restrictions on playing for fans and no relevant travel restrictions. The parties agreed to “ in good faith ” discuss the economic feasibility of playing in empty baseball fields, which seems the likely option.

MLB says that without fans, it would make an average loss of $ 640,000 for every additional game played. The union disputes the financial figures of the teams.

Teams are also concerned about a second wave of the new corona virus this fall and don’t want to play past October, fearing that $ 787 million in broadcast revenue could be lost for the postseason. MLB suggested expanding the playoffs from 10 to 14 teams, which would bring additional broadcast rights to sell, and offered players to ensure the larger playoffs for both 2020 and 2021.

While baseball has returned to the economic bickering that led to eight stoppages of work from 1972-95, the NBA on Thursday announced plans to resume the regular season with 22 teams on July 31, but the NHL continues to plan for an expanded Stanley Cup. playoffs this summer and MLS plans to have teams return with a tournament in July.

“ In this age of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, players want nothing more than to return to work, ” said Clark. “ But we cannot do this alone. ”