It’s well known that Major League Baseball owners and players have been at loggerheads over several important issues during the sport’s shutdown. One of the key disagreements centers on the length of a potential season. The union side proposed a 114-game campaign with full prorated salaries over the weekend, but the owners clearly have other ideas.
While they have already proposed a sliding pay scale based on an 82-game schedule, they’ve at least kicked around the idea of something in the vicinity of 50 games. Even as few as 42 contests is a possibility, according to Bill Shaikin and Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times. At least to the owners, that would offer some sort of season while mitigating teams’ monetary losses during a year in which there may not be any fans in the stands. MLB claims it would lose $4 billion if there’s an 82-game, spectator-less season in which the players would receive full prorated salaries.
As of now, however, a 50-game season doesn’t look like something the players are going to accept. Commissioner Rob Manfred is allowed to implement as long or short a schedule as he wants; however, as Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported earlier, the players may be able to object based on the agreement the sides made in March. That deal says the commissioner’s office must make “best efforts to play as many games as possible.”
The players, like the owners, have finances near the forefront of their minds during this standoff. The league’s potential proposal would entitle the players to prorated salaries, but it wouldn’t move the needle enough for them during a severely truncated campaign. As Travis Sawchik of FiveThirtyEight tweets, 50 games is “not acceptable” to the union side. Furthermore, Sawchik points out this potential proposal wouldn’t make nearly enough of a financial difference in the players’ minds. They’d earn roughly 31 percent of their pay – about the same total as owners offered in their first proposal – per Sawchik.
Beyond the money factor, there’s concern on the players’ side over whether a 50-game season would be worthwhile, Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com explains. For instance, would it behoove the players to put themselves at greater risk for injury or contraction of the coronavirus during what would essentially be one-third of a typical season, wherein they’d earn far less money than expected? Rogers also wonders how such a shortened season could affect salaries down the line, as teams and players would have to weigh such a small sample of statistics in future contract talks.
This continues to look like a dire situation for the game, especially with time running out toward actually starting any kind of season (remember, the players would still have to go through another few weeks of spring training beforehand). Now, if the owners don’t offer another counter-proposal, the players will be “done” talking, Sawchik reports.