Passan: MLB Losing 2020 Season Is 'Worst-Case Scenario' Amid Financial Debate

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2020

VARIOUS CITIES,  - MARCH 12:  A detail of baseballs during a Grapefruit League spring training game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 12, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Many professional and college sports, including the MLB, are canceling or postponing their games due to the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Major League Baseball is attempting to move toward having a 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it is far from guaranteed for multiple reasons.   

ESPN's Jeff Passan wrote Tuesday that a "worst-case scenario" of there being no 2020 MLB season remains in play.

Aside from the status of COVID-19 and the difficulties it presents in terms of allowing teams to play while keeping the players, coaches and umpires safe, there are major financial issues at work as well, and they may present the biggest hurdle.

Passan reported that MLB's proposed 50-50 revenue split is a "non-starter" for players and compared it to the 1994 season, which was never completed due to the players' resistance to a salary cap.

Passan laid out the proposal for the 2020 season aside from the revenue split, which would include teams playing an 82-game season rather than 162. Teams would play games in their home parks if possible with no fans in attendance to start, and the season would begin in early-July after an abbreviated spring training in June.

Also, for one season only, the American and National Leagues would both employ a designated hitter, and teams would only play against franchises in their division and the corresponding division in the other league. That means the New York Yankees would only take on AL East and NL East opponents.

The playoffs would be expanded from 10 teams to 14 in an effort to generate more television revenue.

Passan noted that a revenue split is usually reserved for leagues that have a salary cap, such as the NFL, NBA and NHL. The issue in MLB when it comes to a revenue split this season is the fact that some teams could operate at a loss due to the nonexistent local revenue, such as ticket, merchandise and concession sales at the ballparks.

The players reportedly have an issue with their salaries being tied to revenue since their salaries don't grow when revenue goes up under normal circumstances. They are also wary of the season being shut down before the playoffs due to COVID-19, which would leave them without any of the playoff revenue.

While the situation isn't ideal for either side, Passan pointed out that not having a 2020 season could be catastrophic for both sides financially, which suggests there is plenty of incentive to reach an agreement.

Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.