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MLB News and Notes: League, Players Have Financial Differences

It has been a bit of a tumultuous week for players at all levels of baseball, as MLB looks to try to find avenues to return to the field amidst the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest news stories from around the league this week.

Owners Make New Economic Pitch To Players

Major League Baseball and its owners proposed a new economic plan for the 2020 season to the Player’s Association this week, and it did not quite go over too well.

In the plan, there would be a sliding scale of pay reductions, as reported first by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Essentially, the top earners in the game would take the largest pay cuts while those making league minimum (or close to) would not have near the impact of their paychecks.

To give specific examples, Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com indicated that someone with a contract of $35 million would make just under $8 million for the season while someone making a million would make about $434,000.

Needless to say, some of the top earners in the game would be significantly impacted. That includes some of the brightest stars of the sport, like Mike Trout, Gerrit Cole, Jose Altuve, and others.

One thing to remember is that players have already agreed to a salary adjustment. Months ago, they agreed to a prorated salary, where their salary would be adjusted based on how many games they played. For instance, if they only played half the games, they would only get half of their contractual salary.

It is for that reason that a lot of players feel insulted that the league would try to adjust their salary even further. For instance, Max Scherzer, who is on the MLBPA executive subcommittee, was very forthright in a Tweet.

He said that he wasn’t even sure if the union should engage with MLB in any more talks that discussed further adjustments to their salary. He also challenged the league to open up their books so that it could become public knowledge of how much teams were bringing in when it comes to revenue.

It does appear that the Players Association plans to send a counter-proposal, but it does not sound like they will budge off of their agreed-upon prorated salary. According to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal, the players will instead look to have a longer season (roughly 100 games) but will not agree to anything other than their prorated deals.

One thing is for certain, there are still a lot of hoops to jump through for a season to happen (both in terms of economics and health concerns), but this week certainly brought more anxiety than security when it comes to whether an agreement between players and MLB can come together.

Some Minor Leaguers Getting Short End Of Deal

While the Major Leagues are negotiating a return, this time is especially hard for minor leaguers. While nothing is official, it is basically a foregone conclusion that the minor league season will be canceled.

As a result, minor league players not on the 40-man rosters will not receive game checks and have instead been relying on the $400 per week agreement that teams have been paying. The problem, though, is not all teams plan on continuing to pay these payments.

For instance, the Oakland Athletics, drawing a lot of criticism, have said they are ending their payments to their minor leaguers. That means those players will no longer receive paychecks, yet cannot play for another team because they are still under control of the Athletics.

On the flip side, many teams have agreed to continue to pay their minor leaguers moving forward. Some have pledged through the end of June (Brewers, Cardinals, etc.), some through the end of August (Astros, Red Sox, Twins, etc.), and some even through the end of the minor league season in September (Reds, Marlins, Padres, Mariners).

Price Doing Right By New Teammates

Speaking of minor leaguers, the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to pay their players through at least the end of June. This is a great gesture by the organization, but it has not stopped one of their players from going above and beyond this.

David Price, the left-handed pitcher that the Dodgers acquired from the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade, has also committed to paying every minor leaguer not on the 40-man roster an additional $1,000.

Price is in the middle of a seven-year, $217 million contract that expires at the end of the 2022 season. It is really nice seeing a player who has made significant career earnings helping his fellow players that are scratching and clawing to try to make it to the show.

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