MLB and the Players Association would have a difficult time reaching an agreement just because of their history of mistrust and dislike and because they are navigating those feelings during a pandemic.
But further accentuating the problematic relationship is that the parties don’t even agree with what they actually agreed to in late March.
The parties continue to negotiate on health and safety, as well as rules to restart this season. But it’s always about the money. MLB made a financial proposal last week with a sliding scale where the highest-paid players would incur the biggest cuts. The union hated him. The Players Association responded Sunday with a plan to play 114 games (32 more than MLB proposed) without cutting prorated wages. MLB hated it.
An MLB official briefed on Sunday’s conversation says the union did acknowledge that the March 26 deal requires more talks on economic viability if the games are played without fans. MLB interprets that to mean that there was an understanding that further cuts in wages would be necessary without the revenue generated by viewers.
The union says the March 26 document doesn’t require players to cut their prorated wages, just to have a conversation about economic viability. And the union does not trust the financial data MLB has provided to document why owners need players to take what would amount to about $ 800 million in additional pay cuts beyond what has been lost by not playing to date. .
In counterattack, MLB is at least considering giving players their prorated salaries, but lowering the regular season to 30-60 games. MLB believes that the March 26 deal empowers Commissioner Rob Manfred to play any number of games MLB wants, as long as the players receive their prorated wages and meet economic viability and health goals.
For finance, MLB could argue that it would lose less money paying full wages for fewer games. As for health, MLB wants to complete the regular season by the end of September, worried that the colder weather could create another big wave of coronavirus cases. It’s one of the reasons MLB didn’t like the union’s call to play 114 regular season games through October and then hold the postseason in November.
The union would see the March 26 agreement as a call for both sides to try in good faith to play as many regular-season games as possible. And you would see falling from an initial bid of 82 to go down would not be in good faith. Furthermore, even if Manfred could unilaterally restart the schedule, the union would argue that it cannot unilaterally impose health protocols. So if the players don’t agree with that then it wouldn’t matter what schedule the MLB demands.
MLB could try to argue that the union would violate the March 26 agreement and go after concessions made in that document, such as giving players full-service time, even if no games are played this year.
The problem is that all of this only continues to tighten positions on both sides. The best result for the sport would be to reopen the weekend of July 4, which probably means reaching an agreement early next week at the latest. But if there are going to be 30-60 games or a regular season schedule through October, then there is still no deadline to pressure these warring sides towards a deal.
An optimist might see Sunday’s Players Association proposal in a meeting with its two top executives, Tony Clark and Bruce Meyers, and MLB top two of Manfred and Dan Halem had $ 100 million in deferrals as a branch of olive tree to provide MLB short-term help with Cash Flow. That MLB is considering full prorated wages, even on a shorter schedule, could also be seen as a concession.
For now, however, those elements are included in general offers that the opposite side deplores. There are not many displacements. And it is difficult to reach a new agreement with all the obstacles when there are still different opinions on what the parties actually agreed on more than two months ago.