Financial negotiations to bring baseball back off to slow start
Tuesday was the first day major-league owners and the players' union had formal talks on financial compensation for an abbreviated season.
The odds of getting a deal done right out of the chute were remote at best, so it should come as no surprise the two sides are far apart.
According to multiple reports, negotiators for the owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association held a virtual meeting Tuesday that lasted about two hours.
Given the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic -- play was halted two weeks before the regular season was scheduled to open -- owners are seeking big cuts in player salaries.
"We made a proposal to the union that is completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport," Major League Baseball said in a statement sent to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. "We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA."
The player's side was not at all happy with the offer, calling it "extremely disappointing" and the pay cuts "massive."
Earlier this month, owners floated a restructured financial plan offering revenue sharing with a 50/50 split with the players.
Fronted by executive director Tony Clark, the MLBPA immediately shot down the proposal.
"A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period," Clark said. "This is not the first salary-cap proposal our union has received. It probably won't be the last. That the league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they've failed to achieve in the past, and to anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days, suggests they know exactly how this will be received.
"None of this is beneficial to the process of finding a way for us to safely get back on the field and resume the 2020 season, which continues to be our sole focus."
The new proposal from the owners reportedly takes revenue sharing off the table and replaces it with a sliding scale of pay cuts.
Players with the highest salaries would face the largest reductions.
The cuts are based on games being played with no fans in the stands. If that changed later in the shortened season, players would make more money.
There is still time for the MLBPA to present owners with a counteroffer, but the clock is ticking.
In order to get back on the field in early July and play an 82-game season before moving into expanded playoffs, a second spring training needs to start around June 10.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said owners will lose close to $4 billion if no games are played this season.