Report: MLBPA 'Livid' After Leaked Email About Negotiations in Wage Fight

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 25:  A general generic view of an official Major League Baseball sitting in the dugout during the game between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox on February 25, 2019 at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale Arizona.  (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

The MLB Players Association reportedly believes MLB and team owners are using underhanded tactics in order to sway public support as the two sides remain at an impasse over player salaries during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Thursday the MLBPA wrote in an internal memo it is "livid" over the leak of an email reported on by the New York Post's Joel Sherman.

According to Sherman, the email addressed how much players would be compensated during a regular season staged without fans in attendance:

"The Post, however, has obtained a March 26 email from an MLB lawyer to top league officials that documents the substance of talks between two MLB officials and two MLBPA officials from earlier that morning. The email covers seven points, including that MLB explained to the union officials that MLB would need a second negotiation if games were not played in front of fans to determine pay and claims that union officials understood that concept.

"Thus, the email seemingly offers evidence that the union was aware that further talks were potentially necessary."

It appeared the matter was resolved when MLB and the MLBPA struck an agreement to make multiple concessions related to the pandemic. As part of the deal, players would receive a prorated portion of their salary tied to the number of games played.

Cutting the season in half would mean a player receives 50 percent of his usual compensation.

However, owners are seeking new terms, which would likely mean even less money going to the players.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported owners have approved a plan that would split revenues equally between themselves and players.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark quickly came out against the proposal, telling The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich he thought it equated to the creation of a salary cap in MLB.

Heyman explained why MLB and team owners are looking to work out a new arrangement:

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

MLB’s position is that it will lose more money if they play games without fans and pay prorated salaries than if they don’t play at all. Thus, owners are saying they will not pay pro-rated salaries.

However, Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra hit on a crucial aspect of Heyman's more recent report:

Craig Calcaterra @craigcalcaterra

MLB has spent a few weeks now planting the idea of the tremendous need for a revenue share in the minds of the press and the public, but it has not (a) made such a proposal to players; or (b) provided requesting documentation justifying said need.

The Associated Press' Ronald Blum reported May 15 the MLBPA's lawyers were asking for documentation detailing MLB's revenue projections.

Marquee franchises such as the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox can claim the need to rein in spending without disclosing their full balance sheets. Fans have to take ownership at their word.

Adopting the same approach with the MLBPA as to how the pandemic impacts MLB's bottom line will inevitably raise questions as to whether the league is inflating the extent of the financial hit.