Major League Baseball, like so many other sports, is currently suspended because of the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic. MLB and the players association (MLBPA), though, are determined to have a 2020 season of some kind.
As part of the fallout of no baseball currently being played, MLB and the union have started talks over what player salaries will look like for this season. The two sides currently have unresolved issues regarding what the financial split for a potential 2020 season would be.
MLBPA chief Tony Clark shot down the idea of players taking additional pay cuts last week. "Players recently reached an agreement with Major League Baseball that outlines economic terms for resumption of play, which included significant salary adjustments and a number of other compromises, Clark said. "That negotiation is over."
The league will reportedly submit a 2020 season restart plan to the players union by next week. One of the ideas currently being discussed by some league officials and team executives involves a one-year revenue-sharing arrangement between the players and teams, according to The Athletic's Evan Drellich.
If the league were to propose this idea, the MLBPA would likely view it "as an attempt to help the owners' bottom lines, not players," Drellich reports.
"The league gives us certain revenue numbers from various sources but requires us to keep them confidential," the Players Association told Drellich. "In addition, the league does not give us access to the actual (media) contracts."
Drellich writes that the two sides are on opposite ends of this argument. More:
... At this point, it appears inevitable that the league will ask the players to reduce their salaries further. Teams have always formulated their payrolls, in part, based on the gate receipts, which helps them to project their revenues within a certain range.
"If we ended up playing and playing in front of full fans, for 82 games, it makes total sense that we would pay players' full salaries," one industry executive said. "If you're in the more extreme where we have to play empty everywhere, that's half the revenue that would have come in that's not coming in anymore. We weren't equipped or budgeting to pay full salaries for that."
If the players do not budge, the owners could threaten not to play games at all.
The two sides have discussed a variety of scenarios for the 2020 regular and postseason, including the three-hub plan reported by our R.J. Anderson and the Arizona plan. There are plenty of logistical hurdles MLB would need to overcome and other issues needing to be addressed before committing to the plan, but on Monday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly told league employees that he expects baseball to return in 2020.
MLB and the MLBPA did resolve several shutdown-related issues in March, but the financial considerations for a potential 2020 season remain a difficult subject for both sides to agree on.