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Major League Baseball players union wants 100 games, full prorated salaries: reports

The union will counter the economic proposal the league made this week.
This March 25, 2020, file photo shows a banner to welcome to fans at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. Baseball's regular-season start has been put on hold because of the coronavirus. Major League Baseball's latest economic proposal to the players has put in jeopardy a planned start to the season in early July.
This March 25, 2020, file photo shows a banner to welcome to fans at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. Baseball's regular-season start has been put on hold because of the coronavirus. Major League Baseball's latest economic proposal to the players has put in jeopardy a planned start to the season in early July. [ BEN MARGOT | AP ]
Published May 28, 2020

NEW YORK — Why stop at 82 games when you can get paid for 100.

The Major League Baseball Players Association will counter the league’s economic proposal this week with a schedule request that includes over 100 games and a guarantee of full prorated salaries.

The latest news, first reported by ESPN, arrived after Nationals starter Max Scherzer, a member of the union’s eight-person executive subcommittee, posted on Twitter late Wednesday. Scherzer implied that the union would not accept further pay cuts after agreeing to prorated salaries in March and that if the league provided documented proof of its financial burdens, its economic strategy would change in the union’s favor.

The league does not open its books to the public, which makes declarations about how much a team earns or loses difficult to verify.

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players, there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” Scherzer posted.

The union’s desire to jam more than the league-proposed 82 games into the 2020 season, put on hold by the coronavirus, could serve as a headache for MLB and its owners. The longer the schedule goes, the greater the chance of a potential second wave of the coronavirus cancelling the postseason, which would wipe out the league’s national television revenue. The players, however, would benefit from playing more games due to their current prorated salaries: more games means more earnings.

The league maintains that without fans in the stands and gate-related revenue, players must further reduce their salaries to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. MLB proposed Tuesday a sliding-scale salary reduction on top of the prorated salaries players have accepted. The proposal, met with frustration and disappointment by the union, called for severe pay cuts to the highest-paid players and manageable financial cutbacks to the lowest-paid players.

Salaries were set to range from $563,500 for players at the major-league minimum to $36 million for Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole. Under the March agreement, the range would be cut to roughly $285,000 to $18 million for the 82-game regular season MLB has proposed. Under the economic proposal made by MLB this week, the range would be reduced to about $262,000 to $8 million, including shares of a bonus all players would receive if the postseason is played.

“We have previously negotiated in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received,” Scherzer said on Twitter. “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.”

The union recently submitted additional document requests to the league in search of information about local and national television revenue, sponsorship revenue and projections from teams, ESPN reported. The commissioner’s office and union disagree on the amount of money the league would lose without gate-related revenue.

MLB wishes to start the shortened season in early July, with a three-week training period preceding it. That means the union and league must aim to reach an agreement on all financial and scheduling matters in the next week. If the league agrees to more than 100 games, that could mean the World Series would be played after Thanksgiving.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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