MLB Proposes Conditional 75% Prorated Pay Over 76 Games, Season Would End September 27

According to ESPN’s Karl Ravech, Major League Baseball has indeed decided to counter the players’ proposal for a 114-game season at full prorated pay. This came as the result of a Monday morning conference call between owners aimed at getting the 2020 season restarted, with the parameters representing what could perhaps be considered a legitimate effort toward compromise.

The latest proposal is for a 76-game schedule, which is a little shorter than the 82 games we’ve seen out there in large part due to timing. The September 27 finish line imposed by MLB would leave only 86 days if the season started on July 4, which isn’t possible at this point, so it’s necessary to shave a few games off. That’s all reasonable, but the move to cut pay to 75% of the prorated level* is something players have previously said they’d not accept.

While adding in playoff pool money — owners had previously offered $250 million, now it’s over $400 million — and removing draft pick compensation for signing players this winter are admirable efforts, they may not be enough to overcome the decrease in salary. The proposal to pay 75% of prorated salaries would result in around $1.5 billion in player compensation, roughly $180 million more than getting full pay for 50 games.

Sounds like lot, right? Not when you consider that it’s just $6 million per team. Full pay over 76 games would be just under $2 billion, or $16 million per team, more than paying players at a 75% rate. That seems like a small sum for owners, which is why the players are reportedly upset about the offer and consider it a “step backwards” in the process.

That said, this is an improvement over a sliding scale and could represent a willingness to actually find some middle ground. The players are likely to push back by reiterating their need to be paid at a full rate, particularly as fans are expected to be allowed to attend games in some capacity at several ballparks, so it’s a matter of finding the inflection point between percentage of pay and number of games. If owners are willing to stick with the removal of draft-pick compensation, I can maybe see players agreeing to a small haircut.

Expect to hear more on this here very soon, as time is quickly running out to get something done.

Update: Per Even Drellich of The Athletic, the 75% pay level is contingent upon having a postseason. If the playoffs don’t happen, that pay drops to 50% of the prorated amount. Lemme just reach into my bag of nopes on that one.

Update #2: As I’ve been saying here on the site and elsewhere, it feels as though we’re hurtling toward the likelihood of an extremely short season mandated by MLB.

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