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Major League Baseball plan to restart season saves big-spending teams $100M each: report

The Associated Press analyzed salaries for the 899 players on big-league rosters and injured lists at the time spring training stopped.
In this April 24, 2013, file photo,  Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis stands on the Major League Baseball logo that serves as the on deck circle during the first inning of a baseball game between the White Sox and Indians in Chicago.
In this April 24, 2013, file photo, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis stands on the Major League Baseball logo that serves as the on deck circle during the first inning of a baseball game between the White Sox and Indians in Chicago. [ CHARLES REX ARBOGAST | AP ]
Published Jun. 6, 2020

NEW YORK — The Yankees, Astros and Dodgers would each save more than $100 million on player salaries as part of management’s proposal to start the coronavirus-delayed season than they would under the union’s plan, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Top stars accustomed to eye-popping salaries that set them apart from mere All-Stars would experience by far the steepest cuts. Set to earn $36 million each, Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole would get $25.3 million under the union’s plan and a base of $5.6 million under the teams’ proposal, with the chance to get back to about $8 million if the postseason is played. A rookie at the minimum would get $396,537 from the union plan and $256,706 from the MLB proposal, not much more than the $222,222 per game Trout and Cole originally were slated to earn.

The Yankees project to pay $155 million to players under the union’s plan, according to The Associated Press analysis based on frozen March 28 rosters, and spend $48 million on salary under management’s proposal. The Astros drop from $149 million to $46 million and the Dodgers from $147 million to $46 million.

Lower-spending teams save, too, but not nearly as much because their starting points are lower. The Marlins are at $33 million under the union’s plan and $16 million under MLB’s. The Pirates’ salaries would drop from $36 million to $17 million and the Orioles’ from $43 million to $18 million.

Players agreed March 26 to accept prorated shares of their salaries during a shortened season, part of a deal that guaranteed $170 million in advances and service time even if the season is scrapped. More than 100 players gathered for a digital meeting Thursday and reaffirmed their stance against additional cuts.

A player with a $20 million salary, such as Cardinals All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, would be guaranteed just below $4 million under the MLB plan and about $14.1 million under the union plan. Rays pitcher Charlie Morton’s $15 million salary would be cut to a $3.2 million base under the MLB plan and $10.6 million under the union proposal.

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto’s $10 million salary would drop to a $2.4 million base as part of the MLB proposal and to $7 million under the union plan.

Brewers pitcher Brett Anderson would fall from $5 million to $1.4 million in MLB’s plan and to $3.5 million in the union’s formula.

“Interesting strategy of making the best most marketable players potentially look like the bad guys,” Anderson posted on Twitter after MLB made its proposal.

Salaries for the 899 players on big-league rosters and injured lists at the time spring training stopped total about $2.7 billion under the union’s plan and approximately $950 million in management’s proposal. The sides estimate salaries for all 40-man roster players would add to $2.8 billion in the union’s plan and $1.2 billion in management’s proposal, not including a $200 million postseason bonus pool MLB proposed.

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MLB and the union have been making plans to start the season next month in ballparks without fans, and teams say they will suffer huge losses. In response to the union’s stance, MLB is considering proposing a much shorter schedule, perhaps 50 games or fewer.

The pandemic-induced stoppage has wrecked baseball’s finances. MLB says that by playing in empty ballparks, teams would combine to lose $640,000 for each additional regular-season game played.

Teams also say they fear extending play deep into the fall, as the union proposes, because that would risk a second wave of the coronavirus that would prevent the postseason from being played.

Both sides have said they hope to start the season around the beginning of July, and talks may intensify next week. Some on the players’ side fear teams may attempt to implement a relatively short schedule, which could provoke the threat of a grievance and to play while seeking money damages.

The Associated Press study looked solely at 2020 salaries and did not include prorated shares of signing bonuses, which are guaranteed when a contract is signed and approved by the commissioner’s office.

MLB offered a six-tier sliding scale of pay cuts starting at 10 percent and rising to 90 percent for the amounts of salaries above $10 million, followed by prorating based on an 82-game season. Players proposed prorating for a 114-game regular season schedule stretching through October.

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