Major League Baseball has reached out to players with a new return-to-play plan for the 2020 season on Monday, offering a 76-game season where players could make as much as 75% of their prorated salaries, according to sources cited by ESPN.
The proposal would guarantee only a portion of those salaries, with significant bonuses paid out if the playoffs and World Series take place in 2020.
MLB, Players Association Still Far Apart on Salary
In total, players could earn a little over $1.43 billion in salary under the plan. About $989 million of that total comes in guaranteed prorated salaries, with another $443 million to be paid out if the postseason goes forward.
MLB owners have pushed to tie a significant amount of the players’ pay to the completion of the postseason, as the playoffs and World Series generate tremendous revenue for the sport.
Even with the bonuses, however, the MLB proposal falls far short of the last offer from the MLB Players Association. Players put forth a plan to hold a 114-game season with full prorated salaries, which would have resulted in total pay of $2.87 billion if teams completed their seasons.
The MLB proposal also removed compensation for draft picks, a move that could improve the free-agent market in the offseason. The league has asked the Players Association to respond to the offer by Wednesday.
There are no signs that players plan to agree to this proposal. For one thing, every MLB offer has included about the same salary benefits for players, only structured differently each time.
– 82 games at sliding scale = ~33% salary
– 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
— Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) June 8, 2020
The most recent proposal also places more emphasis on postseason money, creating the potential for players to make far less if a second wave of COVID-19 disrupts the 2020 season.
Optimism Remains for Shortened 2020 Season
With negotiations between the two sides now pressing into mid-June, it appears impossible for the 2020 MLB season to start on or around July 4, which was initially set as a target date. Owners are reluctant to schedule a season that bleeds into October or November before the postseason even begins, mainly due to fears over the coronavirus.
There are at least some issues that both MLB and the MLBPA appear to agree on. Both sides are in favor of expanding rosters for the 2020 season, instituting a universal DH rule, expanding the playoffs for at least one year, and using a regional schedule to limit travel.
There remains the possibility that MLB could institute a very short season with full prorated play, an option the league believes was left with commissioner Rob Manfred in a March agreement with the MLBPA. ESPN reported that MLB is currently considering a 48-game schedule, something that would lead to a high-variance season in which bettors might find value in long-shot futures bets.
While the two sides remain far apart, there are reports that both owners and players still expect some sort of season to take place in 2020.
The *only* thing both sides seem to agree on is that they will play this year.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) June 8, 2020
“The only thing both sides seem to agree on is that they will play this year,” SNY’s Andy Martino wrote in a tweet on Monday.