Earlier this week, league owners and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred approved a plan to start the 2020 season. The proposal was sent to the MLBPA on Tuesday and the two sides have begun negotiations. There will presumably be several rounds of talks with counter-proposals and counter-counter-proposals, so on and so forth.
MLB's proposal includes an early July target for Opening Day, a universal DH, an expanded postseason field, and a revenue-sharing plan that would lead to players taking future pay reductions. That last point will be a major issue. Also, the two sides must figure out how to keep players and personnel safe. It's not easy but a deal doesn't happen without it.
Several players have spoken out since MLB's proposal was approved and submitted to the MLBPA. Adam Jones, who played 14 seasons in the big leagues and is currently with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, called on the game's star players to speak out against the proposal:
It’s time for the BIG GUYS in MLB to speak up. This is your time to speak. Stop holding your tongue. Ppl follow and listen to you. Not gonna name names cause there’s a lot of ppl. Who cares what you make. You earned it. Who cares about backlash!! TIME TO SPEAK THE F UP!— 10 (@SimplyAJ10) May 13, 2020
Jones has never been afraid to speak his mind -- he ripped the free agency process when he went unsigned into March last year -- plus he's a respected veteran who is very popular around the league. He may be playing in Japan now, but Jones speaking out against the proposal carries some weight.
Furthermore, Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer called MLB's proposal "laughable," specifically the proposed revenue sharing.
My reaction to the @Mlb return to play proposal. It’s laughable. @AgentRachelLuba makes some very good points here regarding the proposed revenue split and the problems with it. https://t.co/2CBH1FlRyK— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) May 13, 2020
The MLBPA already agreed to reduced salaries via prorated pay back in March. MLB and the owners are now trying to get players to agree to further pay reductions because games are likely to be played without fans in the stands, thus taking away a revenue stream. The average MLB salary has stagnated in recent years despite record revenues, and MLB was in no rush to propose a revenue share then. Now that the owners are in line to take a loss, they want to players to pay up.
Of course, the MLBPA will be under tremendous pressure these next few weeks. A large segment of baseball fans will call the millionaire players greedy, not the billionaire owners. Yankees president Randy Levine already called the players "patriots," implying they'll want to return to the field for their country. Heck, former player Mark Teixeira says the players should agree to pay reductions, though that's easy to say when you're out of the game and made a fortune already.
When it comes to pay reductions though -- revenue sharing is a salary cap by another name -- the MLBPA should hold its ground. The union has already agreed to prorated salaries and that's fair. If the owners didn't anticipate losing additional revenue, that is their problem. The more players speak out, the better the chances the union gets the owners to stick to the agreement already in place.