The Negotiating Process: MLB Finances

We’re about to move into the third straight month with no pro sports, and as summer begins, it's an odd feeling knowing that baseball isn’t televised to enjoy on a nightly basis. At this point during a regular season, baseball would have been heading into the middle stretch of the season and some of the most exciting moments of the season would be happening. Instead, we stand at a point where we’re unsure if there will even be a season at all. If the owners and players can come to agreement soon on salaries, the season will be a still shell of it’s normal self consisting of around 80-100 games and of course, will include no fans. But there lies the problem in having a season at all, the negotiating process between the owners and players to figure out a salary that the players find fair for this shortened season. (Picture Credit: Federal Baseball) 

Personally, I side with the players on the negotiation process, as I believe that the current plan that the owners layed out for the season is a slap in the face to many of the players and their families. I understand that many people are out of a job during this trying time and these players are making hundreds of thousand, if not millions more then the most of us, but it is still not fair for most of them to accept in some cases a 70-80% pay cut to still complete their job when the owners will see much less of a financial loss. According to MLB insider Jeff Passan a player who agreed to make $35 million per year, would only be taking in around $7.84 million with this new owner's proposal. Here’s the full data breakdown from Passan. The first tweet shows the difference between a player's regular salary and the salary that owners proposed to them for the 2020 season. The second tweet shows the difference between the owners proposed salary and the salary that the players would be willing to play for or the “prorated” salary. 

The prorated salary basically breaks down how much each player makes each game per season and then proportionally breaks it down to a salary that each player would make in an 82 game season. For example if a player is making $16.2 million for a full 162 game season, they would be making $100,000 per game. If the season was 82 games, the player would be making $8.2 million because they would only be playing 82 of those games. I personally think that this is a very fair settlement and it seems that most of the MLB players would agree with me on that front. Although players would still be losing millions with the prorated salary compared to their normal salary, they would still be making almost double in some cases to what the owners proposed. 

At this point in the summer, it’s beginning to look increasingly unlikely that baseball will be played at all. It seems that the owners and players are on two total separate pages and there will need to be some major steps made in order to come to agreement. This could be a very messy PR situation for baseball especially when most of the other major sports leagues are already completing plans to come back to play later in the summer. The worst part of this for baseball is that this may not only last this season, as a new collective bargaining agreement will also need to be negotiated very soon and we may be looking at another strike in 2021 or 2022 similar to the 1994 season, if the players and owners are unable to come to an agreement. (Picture Credit: Philadelphia Inquirer)

I really do understand how upset many of the players are about this, especially because all of the money in the contracts is guaranteed money, unlike the NFL. It’s unclear how much the owners would be losing in a situation like this but I have to side with the players who are making much less than the owners to begin with. If the owners really wanted a season to happen I believe they could come to an agreement with the players but I just can’t see that happening at this point. So unfortunately for baseball, I’m increasingly more confident that it may be a lost season altogether. 

- Andrew Gardner, UNH '23 

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