Not long after reports that the MLBPA’s proposal to owners for a 114-game season with full prorated salaries was a “non-starter” came news that owners would indeed to willing to move from their sliding pay scale. There is, however, a major catch. Owners would want to start the season in July and shorten it to around 50 regular season games, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
The potential season Major League Baseball envisions would run somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 regular-season games, sources told ESPN. The exact number is being considered, but the aim would be to return in July. It would be less than half of players’ proposed season length.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 1, 2020
That’s a marked departure from the players’ number and would mean a season of just two months, likely with an expanded playoff format that would take place primarily in September. Such a deal would accomplish the owners’ primary goal of capitalizing on the increased revenue from postseason broadcast rights while limiting their payroll exposure.
Under the sliding-scale proposal, player salaries would have totaled around $1.1 billion, roughly a quarter of the full-season total of $4.37 billion. Interestingly enough, this latest twist would see owners shelling out around $1.35 billion over 50 games, which is right around the same amount they’d have paid under the 50-50 rev-share model. The sliding-scale plan also had a postseason pool set aside, but there’s no word yet on whether that’s still on the table.
While we know little of the private conversations being had in these negotiations, it’s become clear that two things are necessary for the season to work: playoffs and full prorated salaries. Owners want to minimize their exposure from a cash perspective, which means limiting games and ensuring they can hold a World Series without fear of a second coronavirus wave. Players simply want the chance to earn as much of their original salaries as possible.
With all of that in mind, it now appears as though the conversations will be about how many games can be played. What a trip it would be if this all lands right back at 81 or 82 games.