Playoffs Could Still Be Solution as Owners Call MLBPA’s Proposal ‘Non-Starter’

Major League Baseball’s players appear to be firmly entrenched on the matter of prorated salaries, while the owners are even more firmly entrenched in their own backsides. You know, because that’s where their wallets are. Both sides have presented financial proposals for restarting the season, with the owners asking players to take more than a 50% cut from even the prorated salaries they though they’d agreed to and the players asking the owners to extend the season through October, defer pay, and expand the playoffs this year and next.

Wait, one of those two actually sounds reasonable. Ah, but the owners are apparently so thoroughly convinced of the short-term losses for an industry that has produced record revenues over the past several years that they’re unwilling to budge. That’s what happens when you over-leverage yourselves and accumulate too much debt, I guess.

Jon Heyman tweeted Monday that the MLBPA’s proposal was a “non-starter,” with Bob Klapisch adding there’s “‘nothing’ in the union’s offer that was considered negotiable.” That’s pretty damning when it comes to the possibility for a season, something Klapisch replied was less than 50-50 at this point. Interestingly enough, the same could be said for the sliding-scale pay model relative the earlier revenue-sharing concept that preceded it.

If anything is ever going to get done on this, and it has to if everyone involved wants to keep the sport alive, the postseason is going to be the pivot on which it all rests. The owners absolutely need the playoffs because that’s where they’ll make a ton of bank in a short season. But in order to ensure they get that far, they want to keep the season shorter to avoid a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases.

As such, the owners are drawing a hard line on an October 1 conclusion to the regular season, which would also see them paying out about 32 fewer games if they agreed to prorated salaries. Actually, they’ve already agreed to prorated salaries either way. So the 114-game season the players are asking for means owners carrying higher payrolls along with a higher perceived risk to the playoffs.

That’s why the players are offering to expand the postseason for two years, a move that would generate a great deal more revenue to offset some or all of the lost gameday income. Makes sense to me, but I’m just a blogger. The clearest path to compromise seems to be a shorter season in 2020 and putting 14 teams in the playoffs this year and next.

There’s also the matter of deferred salaries, which would not hurt the owners’ bottom lines nearly as much as they would have you believe. Unless, that is, you think $100 million spread out over two seasons — an average of $1.67 million per team per season — would be too much to bear.

I know you’re probably as tired of hearing about this as I am of writing about it, but I’m going to keep going until baseball gets its shit together. And by “baseball,” I mean the owners. Players have already made concessions and they’ve offered to make more. Owners, on the other hand, haven’t offered to pay players more in the future if they generate more revenue than projected. They haven’t offered to cut players in for a portion of proceeds from developments around ballparks.

If there is actually room to negotiate, the league and union are going to have to find it here in the next few days. As positive as I’ve been about this throughout the process, I’m beginning to seriously doubt something ends up getting done.

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