On Monday, the Major League Baseball owners and the office of the commissioner agreed to submit a proposal to the players on starting up the 2020 season. The league and the players union are set to meet on Tuesday, but fans got a preview of those talks on Monday night. MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark implied the union won't agree to the league's plan to share revenue.
The owners originally agreed in March to prorate the players' salaries if there was a 2020 season. Instead of prorating, teams now want the players to agree to a 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement since it's clear most, if not all, of the 2020 season will be played without fans in attendance.
Here's what Clark said in an interview with The Athletic:
"A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period. This is not the first salary cap proposal our union has received. It probably won't be the last.
"That the league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they've failed to achieve in the past — and to anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days — suggests they know exactly how this will be received.
"None of this is beneficial to the process of finding a way for us to safely get back on the field and resume the 2020 season — which continues to be our sole focus."
The players are the ones taking the physical risk here (Sean Doolittle outlined those concerns) and, again, there was already an agreement to take prorated salaries. Baseball's most widely known and outspoken agent Scott Boras correctly pointed this out. Via Sports Illustrated:
"The players I represent are unified in that they reached an agreement and they sacrificed anywhere from 30 to 40% of their salaries so that the games could amicably continue," said Boras. "The owners represented during that negotiation that they could operate without fans in the ballpark. Based on that, we reached an agreement and there will not be a renegotiation of that agreement."
To be clear, the owners are going to lose money with no fans in the seats. MLB league-wide attendance last season was 68.5 million, and the average ticket price is $53. In addition to losing out on ticket sales, teams won't be able to rely on fans for concession stand, parking and in-stadium merchandise sales this year.
MLB's revenue in 2019 was more than $10 billion. The average MLB salary, however, has dropped in both of the last two seasons.