Looking to baseball’s future....
The MLB amateur draft starts tonight. Reduced to a mere five rounds, it will be broadcast on MLB Network and ESPN at 7 p.m. ET. Day 2 begins Thursday at 5 p.m. ET on MLB Network and ESPN2. Here’s Josh Tolentino’s Rays-centric preview ($), and another look from beat writer Juan Toribio.
And speaking of drafts, here’s a point of Tampa pride. Any Terriers out there? Our very own Hillsborough High School has had more players taken in the first round of MLB’s amateur draft than any other high school IN THE WORLD. (This article is counting players drafted directly out of high school)
While baseball’s present remains murky
The biggest story in baseball continues to be the question of whether there will be baseball. Concerns about player and staff safety and health no doubt continue to be concerns — after all we have being seeing reports of college athletes needing to quarantine — but if there is no agreement on salaries then the rest won’t matter.
For the most part we are getting drips of information as reporters pump sources on either the league or the union side. So here is some of the latest information.
First, we know that the league is proposing a 76 game season for which players would receive 75% of their pro-rated salaries for those games.
MLB has made proposal to Players. 75 percent Prorated salary. 76 game season. Playoff pool money. No draft pick compensation for signing player. Season finishes September 27th. Post season ends at end of October. Significant move towards players demands and effort to play more.— Karl Ravech (@karlravechespn) June 8, 2020
I’m not sure how the draft compensation issue is relevant to these discussions, but I guess the owners are looking for sweeteners to offer to players since they really don’t want to pay them a full pro-rated salary. The initial responses (unofficial) from the players side are at best lukewarm but I guess talking is better than not talking. I’m no math whiz but I don’t see how this proposal is more appealing than anything the owners have put forward earlier (although Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal calculates that this offer pays out $200 million more to players than the previous offer).
The current proposal would net the players $955 million in salary, plus $34 million in advance forgiveness. If playoffs finish, another $443 million. Total: $1.432 billion, but a third is contingent upon playoffs.— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) June 8, 2020
A 50-game season at 100% proration nets players: $1.256 billion.
The shortened season would have an expanded post season:
As part of this proposal, MLB asked for 16 teams to make playoffs (8 in each league). The plan calls for 1 to play 8, 2 to play 7, etc. In best-of-3 first round. Right now 5 teams make it in each league. Initial proposal asked for 7.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 8, 2020
But there is more! The MLB agreement includes this:
Besides the $$, MLB's proposal includes a revision to the Operations Manual that says players would have to sign an "acknowledgment of risk" before playing. Players believe it is designed to undermine their right to challenge MLB if it fails to provide a safe working environment.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) June 8, 2020
I am not sure how individual contracts and the CBA address injury/illness risk normally, but I would imagine the players would balk at an agreement that imposes no responsibilities on teams to help players stay healthy.
Then, late last night, Jeff Passan reported on an MLBPA counter offer. The new proposal suggests 89 games at full (pro-rated) salary; expanded postseason not just in 2020 but beyond. Players with high-risk health profiles (or who live with those who have such profiles) could sit out with full compensation.
Let’s hope this represents real movement toward a compromise.
Some overview pieces on the negotiations and potential costs of not playing baseball:
From the Washington Post ($), owners have squandered players’ trust, and this stalemate is the result.
Tyler Kepner says players and owners would all benefit from more baseball, but it probably won’t happen.
Craig Edwards delves into revenue projections and owner claims about losses.