Players balk at MLB's pay-cut proposal

Max Scherzer

MLB economic proposal for sliding salary scale would hit Pirates' highest-paid players hardest

Instead, the centerpiece of the Tuesday's proposal was a sliding scale of pay cuts for players that would affect mostly those making the highest salaries. A rookie at the league minimum would keep about 47 percent of his original salary while players like Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole would lose more than 77 percent.

If anything, Tuesday's proposal, put forth by Major League Baseball in a digital meeting with the Players Association, seemed to widen the gap between the two sides. "We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA". From where I sit: the players are taking the health risk, and they should not also be asked to take a huge financial risk. The league and union negotiated a deal back in late March which prorated player salaries.

With MLB's lowest payroll at a reported $54 million for 2020, the Pittsburgh Pirates have only 10 players scheduled to make more than $1 million this season.

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The disagreement over economics has ratcheted up in recent days after the league's first proposal Tuesday rankled players. Another option being floated around is a deferred payment, but that has not yet been brought up from the owners' side of things.

The Players Association had already loudly signaled its disinterest in a revenue-sharing proposal, which it views as the start of a slippery slope toward a salary cap.

Was it posturing? Did MLB make this proposal with the idea that it was merely a starting point, fully realizing that the union would reject it out of hand? However, team owners have since backed away from that understanding, claiming it was only contingent on fans being able to attend games. While that parallel negotiation isn't seen as almost so contentious, the two are also clearly not as separate as you might think.

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Players could propose a longer regular season, which would result in receiving a higher percentage of their salary in the initial calculation of cuts.

Scherzer has always been one of baseball's most outspoken players on matters of labor negotiations and league-wide matters, but he rarely uses social media to share his thoughts. A central part of their argument is the fleeting nature of an athlete's competitive window - the average length of a big league career is 5.6 years, not even enough to reach free agency - as measured against owners who can own their teams for decades and who have seen a 20-year run of rising revenue and even greater growth in franchise values.

Details of the plan have been disclosed to the AP by several people familiar with the proposal. And given the current state of the country, with deaths from COVID-19 officially surpassing the 100,000 mark Wednesday, there's probably very little sympathy from the general public for either billionaire owners or millionaire players.

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As a result, a player at the minimum would earn $262,217, according to calculations Major League Baseball gave the union.

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