Report: MLBPA Asks MLB for Financial Documents Amid Return to Play Proposal

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 15, 2020

LAKELAND, FL - MARCH 01:  A detailed view of a pair of official Rawlings Major League Baseball baseballs with the imprinted signature of  Robert D. Manfred Jr., the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, sitting in the dugout prior to the Spring Training game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on March 1, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. The Tigers defeated the Yankees 10-4.  (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

The MLBPA has requested that MLB release financial documents in the midst of a hangup between the two sides about a potential return to play during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has delayed the start of the 2020 MLB season.

Ronald Blum of the Associated Press broke the news:  

"Baseball owners on Monday approved a proposal that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July with a regular-season schedule of about 82 games. Owners also gave the go-ahead to propose basing players' salaries on a a 50-50 revenue split, which the union says is a salary cap and a framework players will never agree to.

"The type of financial disclosure the union asked for is more common during overall collective bargaining talks, which play out for many months or years, rather than the limited negotiation time available now."

Per Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, MLBPA President Tony Clark issued the following statement in regard to MLB's proposal:

"A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period. 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."

Per the AP, some MLB players have also come out against the split, including Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer and Tampa Bay Rays southpaw Blake Snell.

Bauer issued the following response in a video alongside his agent, Rachel Luba (h/t Dave Clark of the Cincinnati Enquirer):

"The ask is basically take more risk by getting back sooner and take less pay than we've already agreed. We've already agreed to take...50 percent pay cut and now they're asking us to take another pay cut.

"(A 50-50 revenue split) has never been done in baseball. It's not collectively bargained. It would just be for this season. It doesn't sit well with me. Slightly lighthearted, but if I'm gonna have to trust my salary to Rob Manfred marketing the game to make more money for the game, I am out on that."

And Snell said on his Twitch channel that he would refuse to play this season under those circumstances, per ESPN News Services:

"Y'all gotta understand, man, for me to go—for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof. It's a shorter season, less pay.

"No, I gotta get my money. I'm not playing unless I get mine, OK? And that's just the way it is for me. Like, I'm sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I'm making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?"

ESPN's Jeff Passan also wrote on Tuesday that the schism between the MLB and MLBPA on the issue could cause a worst-case scenario involving the cancellation of the 2020 season entirely.

"What? That doesn't sound right to you? Turn back the clock 26 years, to 1994, when MLB wanted to institute a salary cap. The union refused, and in August, it went on strike. Baseball lost a World Series because the league sought a salary cap and the players refused to budge.

"Since then, baseball has seen 25 years of labor peace, the most since the union was founded in 1966."

If the season is ultimately canceled, it will mark the first calendar year that Major League Baseball was not played in its history. It will also denote the third time in the World Series era in which a Fall Classic was not played.