Never one to hold back his thoughts on the economic state of the game, agent Scott Boras recently penned an email to his clients urging them not to concede to further pay cuts — a concession he likens to a “bailout” for owners. Ronald Blum of the Associated Press has the bulk of the email.
“The owners’ current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks,” Boras writes. “…Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout.”
Boras notes that even amid record revenue increases, the average salary of players hasn’t risen in quite some time. Indeed, Blum reported earlier this month that the Opening Day average salary has remained constant at about $4.4MM since 2016 despite steady growth among league revenue and franchise valuations. Similarly, the value of the qualifying offer — determined based on the average of baseball’s 125 highest-paid players — slightly declined in 2019 for the first time since its inception (from $17.9MM to $17.8MM). It had previously risen every year, jumping from $13.2MM in 2012-13 to $17.9MM in the 2018-19 offseason.
To this point, the players’ general stance appears to align with that of Boras. Players are reportedly preparing a counter-proposal for the league that ostensibly ignores the sliding scale mechanism proposed by ownership and instead calls for the previously agreed upon prorated salaries but in a larger slate of games. Max Scherzer, one of eight players on the MLBPA’s executive subcommittee, sounded off against the league’s proposal last night. Notably, Scherzer is one of three Boras clients on that eight-man committee (joined by Elvis Andrus and James Paxton).
While the players are broadly unified in their stance against the sliding scale proposal, they’re not all thrilled with the idea of Boras inserting himself into union matter. Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer, every bit as outspoken as Boras himself (if not more so), blasted the agent on Twitter last night, writing:
Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs. If true — and at this point, these are only rumors — I have one thing to say… Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.
On the surface, one would imagine that the goals of a prominent agent and a prominent player — particularly a free-agent-to-be such as Bauer — would be largely aligned as the union pushes back against further salary concessions. Bauer himself has made clear several times on Twitter that he, like other players, feels ownership has gone back on its end of the March agreement which stipulated prorated salaries in 2020. Ownership, of course, has contested that the agreement was contingent on fans being in attendance.