Major League Baseball players will not accept another pay cut and have "flatly rejected" the league's plan to start the season, according to a statement released Thursday by the union's executive director, former baseball player Tony Clark.
The statement came after a two-hour conference call by the association's executive board and several other MLBPA player leaders and a day after the league rejected a proposal by players to play 114 games at prorated salaries. .
The league wants a dramatically reduced schedule so that owners can pay players per game. Clark mentioned:
Earlier this week, Major League Baseball announced its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought add to the billions in player salary reductions that have already been agreed. "
The players believe that a deal in late March between the parties specified their payment for the season, on a pro rata basis, but the language in the deal also said the parties will discuss the "economic viability" of playing games without fans in the stands.
The league's first proposal since that deal, calling for a sliding scale of more pay cuts in an 82-game season, was flatly rejected by the players. The talks are now paralyzed.
Clark's statement said:
Players proposed more games, two years of expanded Playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a Playoff cancellation in 2020, and the exploration of additional gem events and streaming enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our players closer to fans while increasing the value of our product. "Rather than compromise, the league responded that it will shorten the season unless players agree to further salary reductions ...
Tony Clark added:
The council's overwhelming consensus is that players are ready to report, ready to return to the field, and are willing to do so in unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not only themselves, but also their families. The league's demand for additional concessions was flatly rejected. "
The clock is nearing the start of the season as an officer indicated that pitchers would take up to four weeks to prepare. That timeline jeopardizes the hopeful start to July 4, unless an agreement is reached soon.
The league believes the language in the March deal may allow commissioner Rob Manfred to unilaterally decide how many games are played this year, though players have to sign in an extended Postseason. An approximate 50 game season is not of interest to many players.
A player earlier this week opined:
Play around 25% of the season with a 25% payout? It's not worth the risk and I don't mean COVID-19. A hamstring strain or any shoulder pain and the players will stop. "
The owners say they simply don't have the cash flow to pay full, prorated wages, considering that baseball halted spring training about 10 days before opening day. Therefore, revenue has not materialized for 2020.
On Tuesday, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said:
The league itself does not generate much cash. I think there is a perception that we accumulate cash and withdraw money and everything is in a pile that we have collected over the years. Well, it isn't. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. "
The players are not losing hope for a season, but they claim they need the league's help for that to happen. The sides remain very far apart.
Clark closed saying:
In this moment of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we can't do this alone. "