Report: There's 'Going to Be a War' If MLB Owners Try to Further Reduce Salaries

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2020

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions at a press conference during MLB baseball owners meetings, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

The Major League Baseball Players Association is reportedly preparing for a "war" if owners attempt to reduce salaries beyond an agreement the two sides reached in March regarding pay.

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports reported the players are "hopping mad" as reports mount that ownership is planning to ask for more concessions from the union. The two sides have already agreed that salaries will be prorated for any missed games because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Every major sports league is currently assessing the feasibility of how to potentially resume games safely without fans. The NBA, NHL and MLB have been in constant conversation since the virus essentially halted normal daily life in the United States two months ago.

MLB seemed to be following in the footsteps of the NBA, which quickly came to an agreement with its players on how to handle finances. The negotiation with the NBA and NBPA was relatively easy because their collective bargaining agreement calls for a set guaranteed amount of income both sides receive. Had the players been paid too much because of lost income, they would have had to pay that money back next season.

MLB players' agreement to be paid on a prorated basis works similarly to the NBA's force majeure clause, which calls on their players to forfeit a game check for each game lost.

However, the MLB collective bargaining agreement works differently in that neither players nor owners are given a set percentage. There are guidelines in place, but MLB runs more like a free market, which allows the sport to avoid salary caps and minimums.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported owners are likely to ask players to take a set percentage of overall revenue for the 2020 season, similar to how other leagues operate. 

By attempting to double dip and force more concessions out of players, the owners could be setting themselves up for a bitter labor dispute and major public relations nightmare. Players are the labor. If games resume, they would be the ones putting themselves at risk.

Owners run the risk of looking like they're being penny-pinching billionaires and exploiting their labor for the bottom line during a global pandemic. That's all assuming players would agree to concessions rather than hold out and force all parties to take an even greater financial hit on the 2020 season.