Report: Players to propose longer season, prorated salaries to counter 2020 MLB restart plan

Max Scherzer
Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer voiced his displeasure about MLB’s initial player-compensation proposal. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Now comes the players’ union’s counter riposte. 

The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is expected to offer a new economic proposal for the league and its teams’ owners to consider in the coming days that would include a 100-plus-game schedule and fully guaranteed prorated salaries, as first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan

It’s the players’ rebuttal to an economic proposal for the 2020 season introduced to the union by the league on Tuesday, which the players bristled at. 

That first proposal offered sliding pay cuts for players based on their salary: The more money you made, the higher percentage of a pay cut you would be subject to. 

Such a system would provide a further salary reduction for the players, who agreed to prorated salaries (being paid a full salary just for the number of games played) in March shortly after Opening Day was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The first proposal would look as follows:

  • Players making $563,501 to $1 million receive 72.5% of their salary
  • Players making $1,000,001 to $5 million receive 50%
  • Players making $5,000,001 to $10 million receive 40%
  • Players making $10,000,001 to $20 million receive 30%
  • Players making $20,000,001 and up receive 20%

The pivot from the league and its owners for a new compensation format came when they cited sizable losses from a potential 82-game season — a schedule that was accepted by the owners more than two weeks ago — that will be played without fans in attendance. 

The league’s inability to produce full and comprehensive data showing the brevity of losses that would come with paying players their prorated salaries has the union “skeptical,” per Passan.

Washington Nationals ace pitcher Max Scherzer, who is on the union’s executive subcommittee, confirmed that the players would not take the first proposal and continue to push for full prorated salaries. 

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players, there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” he wrote on Twitter. “We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a second pay cut based upon the current information the union has received.”

“I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.”

MLBPA’s proposal to play a longer season is not expected to gain much traction amongst the owners and the league, especially if they remain steadfast in receiving those prorated salaries. More games mean more money that will be doled out by the owners and a longer schedule could increase the threat of the postseason — which comes with a bountiful television dollars — being wiped out should a second wave of the coronavirus hit the United States.

The clock is ticking on this potential stalemate to be resolved, though. The league’s initial plan was to have a second spring training begin in mid-June before an early-July Opening Day.