- According to a report, some MLB owners are “perfectly willing” to cancel the 2020 season if players don’t agree to further pay cuts
- Owners and the MLB Players’ Association already agreed to prorated salaries for 2020
- Financial cuts have already taken place league wide in the form of minor league releases and shortened draft
To say Major League Baseball in conjunction with owners are at odds with the players is a vast understatement.
As the two sides continue to butt heads, albeit in the presence of a recent proposal from the players’ side, it appears there are certain owners around the league that are willing to pull the plug on the 2020 season altogether.
While such a move would be disastrous in both the short and long term, it’s the latest financially-motivated development in an ongoing saga that continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Report: Some Owners Willing to Cancel MLB Season
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, there is a group of owners that are “perfectly willing” to shut down the season to slash payroll costs and reduce losses.
While it’s easy to imagine these owners representing small market clubs that are less inclined to suffer financially, it’s safe to say that cancelling the 2020 season because of money would be an utter disaster.
For one, the move seems rather short-sighted.
Sure, cancelling this season would save teams from suffering further financial losses, but welcome to the club, baseball.
Millions of hard-working people worldwide have either lost their jobs or seen vast reductions in their salary. It’s wildly difficult for such people to feel sorry for billionaire owners and millionaire players making less money this season.
The long-term effects could be enormous, as well.
While it’s impossible to put a calculation to it, cancelling the 2020 MLB season would surely turn many fans against the league and Major League Baseball could lose these people forever.
That means selling fewer tickets, hot dogs and beer, something that the owners should weigh carefully when debating whether to blow up this season before it even had a chance to begin.
Owners, Players Agreed to Prorated Salary
In March, the MLB and MLBPA agreed to prorated salaries in 2020, and the same agreement gives commissioner Rob Manfred the unilateral ability to schedule the season.
It’s also within Manfred’s power to cancel the season, as well.
The agreement to prorated salaries and the commissioner’s discretion to either schedule a season or cancel it all together is an avenue for owners to hold the season hostage and try to convince players to take further salary cuts.
The March agreement states the MLB and the MLBPA will “discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators.”
Of course, fans will not be in ball parks if/when the season resumes and it’s highly unlikely fans will be permitted into venues at all in the 2020 season.
Financial Cuts Taking Place League Wide
While some owners threaten to cancel the season if further player pay cuts are not accepted by the MLBPA, both the league and its owners have already been making moves for financial reasons.
One example is the draft. Usually 40 rounds, the 2020 draft – set for June 10 – has been reduced to just five rounds while there is a $20,000 cap on signing undrafted players.
The shortened draft saves teams from paying full slot values to drafted players as they’ll have to do so for just a handful of players this time around.
The latest cuts – literally – were of the minor league variety.
As teams would normally do near the end of spring training, minor league players were being cut and released by the hundreds last week, with further cuts expected.
MLB teams already reduced minor league salary to a maximum $400 weekly stipend, meaning players contracted to make more than that saw as much as an 80% salary reduction as a result.
Last week, the Oakland A’s became the first MLB team to suspend the stipend, meaning their minor league players are no longer being paid, but remain employees and are not able to sign with another club.
The move drew harsh criticism – and rightfully so – with many clubs quickly announcing they will continue to pay their minor league players the stipend until the end of August when the minor league season typically concludes.
“Sources say there is a group of owners perfectly willing to shut down the season, to slash payroll costs and reduce losses, and the disparate views among the 30 teams have been reflected in the decisions to fire and furlough. The Pirates’ Bob Nutting used the shutdown as an avenue to suspend teams contributions to employee 401K plans — savings best measured monthly in the tens of thousands of dollars rather than the millions that would actually be difference-making for a franchise probably worth at least $1 billion. The Oakland Athletics’ John Fisher decided to eliminate the $400 weekly salaries of minor leaguers, which might save the franchise about the amount of the team’s unpaid stadium rental bill. On the other hand, clubs such as the Tigers, Padres and Royals demonstrated greater humanity, with the Royals’ John Sherman deciding to pay his minor leaguers.”
A more recent development was the Washington Nationals reducing their minor leaguers’ pay, only to reverse course when players such as Sean Doolittle announced they would step up and cover the difference.
Public pressure applied by the Nationals’ major league players forced the organization to do what it should’ve done without hesitation in the first place. https://t.co/oehdHWpCIQ
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 1, 2020
Cancelling the season due to coronavirus and health concerns would be one thing, but pulling the plug over a money dispute would be an abomination for Major League Baseball.