10:55am: Players have been asked to respond to the proposal by Wednesday, tweets ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
10:25am: Major League Baseball’s 30 owners have made a new proposal to the union, ESPN’s Karl Ravech reports (via Twitter). The latest attempt by the league to return to play would see a 76-game season that pays players at 75 percent of their prorated contracts and concludes on Sept. 27. The postseason would still finish before the end of October, and the players would receive some portion of “playoff pool money.” Draft pick compensation for signing players would also be temporarily eliminated.
On the one hand, it’s encouraging to see a new effort from ownership. On the other hand, Mike Axisa of CBS Sports points out (via Twitter) that the offer essentially boils down to the same one the league has previously made twice — just dressed up differently. The league’s 82-game, sliding-scale proposal would’ve paid players, on average, about a third of their full-season salary. That’s also true of a roughly 50-game schedule with fully prorated salaries, and the new offer is also in that same ballpark.
To that end, it’s not surprising to see SNY’s Andy Martino tweet that the general player reaction to this is further anger. The Athletic’s Evan Drellich elaborates, tweeting that the union thinks this offer is actually a step back, as players would be more dependent on postseason bonuses to receive their full pay — despite the fact that the league itself has persistently expressed concern about the potential cancellation of playoff games due to an autumn surge in COVID-19 cases.
Per Drellich, the proposal would pay players only half of their prorated salaries for the proposed 76-game regular season, though that number would rise to 75 percent should a full postseason be able to be played out. Meanwhile, Ravech tweets that some sources contend that this offer translates to about $200MM more in total player salaries being paid out in 2020. That seems contingent on the postseason being played in full, though, so the union likely does not see things that way.
It’s also worth noting that while the league can point to the temporary suspension of the qualifying offer/draft compensation system as a win for players, that’s a potentially hollow gesture. Given the widespread revenue losses, even fewer players than usual would be expected to receive a QO at all. Mookie Betts, George Springer and J.T. Realmuto might receive a QO under any circumstance, but borderline cases would almost surely not be given a QO due to ownership fear over accepting and being saddled with a hefty 2021 salary. The Athletics were in essence publicly shamed into paying their minor league players after cutting their weekly stipends to save a total of $1.2MM; it shouldn’t even be assumed that a player like Marcus Semien would be guaranteed a QO.
It seems quite likely that the MLBPA will reject this offer, though if the outcome is a return to some actual back-and-forth negotiation, that could make the new proposal significant even if it was never likely to be accepted in the first place.
In the absence of a true negotiation, the league appears poised to stand by commissioner Manfred’s ability to set a season length at which ownership is comfortable paying fully prorated salaries. If the league views that as the likely outcome, then it may not feel a great sense of urgency anyhow, as a season in the vicinity of 50 games could be played out between August and September (or sooner, depending on start date) with a postseason being completed well prior to the Oct. 31 cutoff point on which owners have been adamant.