The Major League Baseball Players Association on Saturday rejected the owners’ latest proposal for starting the season, with the union telling the league to set a schedule rather than offering a counterproposal.
Shortly after the news broke, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark issued a statement:
Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark today released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/d1p3Oj4K70
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 13, 2020
“Players want to play. It’s who we are and what we do.
“Since March, the Association has made it clear that our No. 1 focus is on playing the fullest season possible, as soon as possible, as safely as possible. Players agreed to billions in monetary concessions as a means to that end, and in the face of repeated media leaks and misdirection we made additional proposals to inject new revenues into the industry — proposals that would benefit the owners, players, broadcast partners, and fans alike.
“It’s now become apparent that these efforts have fallen upon deaf ears. In recent days, owners have decried the supposed unprofitability of owning a baseball team and the Commissioner has repeatedly threatened to schedule a drastically shortened season unless players agree to hundreds of millions in further concessions. Our response has been consistent that such concessions are unwarranted, would be fundamentally unfair to players, and that our sport deserves the fullest 2020 season possible. These remain our positions today, particularly in light of new reports regarding MLB’s national television rights — information we requested from the league weeks ago but were never provided.
“As a result, it unfortunately appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile. It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.”
According to a March agreement between the sides, MLB is allowed to set a schedule in the absence of a negotiated agreement with the union. If MLB implements a schedule, expected to be between 48 and 55 games, the union then likely would file a grievance that the league failed to live up to its obligation of playing the most games possible, according to ESPN.
Later Saturday night, MLB issued a statement:
“We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MLBPA understands that the agreement reached on March 26th was premised on the parties’ mutual understanding that the players would be paid their full salaries only if play resumed in front of fans, and that another negotiation was to take place if Clubs could not generate the billions of dollars of ticket revenue required to pay players.
“The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that Clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season. We will evaluate the Union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March Agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.”
ESPN’s Jeff Passan originally reported Friday that the owners’ latest offer was for a 72-game season, with players getting 83 percent of their prorated salary when $50 million in playoff bonuses are included. As the two sides have gone back-and-forth for weeks, perhaps the biggest sticking point has been the prorating of salary. Players have repeatedly demanded their full prorated salaries, while owners, throughout negotiations, have slowly raised the amount they are willing to pay.
Also on Saturday, news broke of a reported $1 billion deal between MLB and Turner Sports that would allow the network to continue airing one of baseball’s championship series each October. The specific length and financials of the deal were not yet known, but that is the deal to which Clark referred in his letter.
After news of the TV deal broke, numerous players took to social media to call out what they believe to be the hypocrisy of owners. On Tuesday of this week, St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said in an interview that baseball “isn’t very profitable to be quite honest.”
Among them was Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer, who sarcastically tweeted, “Oh good so…we can play now, right? … Seems there is plenty of money being made by the league and the teams. Given than players are the product, I’m sure some of this can be distributed to them, right? Yay for baseball!”
Oh good so…we can play now, right? Seems there is plenty to around here. Seems there is plenty of money being made by the league and the teams. Given than players are the product, I’m sure some of this can be distributed to them, right? Yay for baseball! https://t.co/PwNhDHBhip
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) June 13, 2020
Tweeting in alternating caps meant to show a mocking tone, San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford tweeted, “ThE iNdUsTrY jUsT iSnT tHaT pRoFiTaBlE” and Philadelphia outfielder Andrew McCutchen adding, “bUT bAsEbAlL iS dYiNg!”
Baseball halted spring training on March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic and eventually pushed back Opening Day indefinitely.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that he was “100 percent” certain the season will occur.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)