Report: MLB Prepared to Offer MLBPA Compromise over Revenue Sharing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2020

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 28:  A detail of baseballs is seen through netting of a basket during Game One of the 2009 MLB World Series between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies at Yankee Stadium on October 28, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Team owners from MLB are willing to move from a 50-50 revenue split with players and will propose a compromise to the MLB Players Association on Tuesday, according to NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien.

"Meanwhile, the union is expected to propose a plan that allows players to receive their prorated salaries based on the number of games played, which was part of an agreement between the two sides finalized March 26," Garfien wrote. "But a certain amount of money would be deferred to future years to help reduce the owners' expenses for the 2020 season."

The two sides initially struck a deal that would see players receive a prorated portion of their 2020 salary amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The percentage they'd be paid would be equal to the number of games staged relative to a traditional 162-game season.

However, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported May 11 that owners had approved a plan that would replace prorated salaries with an equal revenue split between themselves and players.

Tony Clark, executive director of the MLBPA, quickly told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich he was against the plan as he believed the revenue-sharing plan to be tantamount to a salary cap.

It looked like the owners were preparing to dig their heels in over the matter.

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.

The New York Post's Joel Sherman reported on an email from an MLB lawyer to league officials, with the details of the email giving the impression the MLBPA understood the need to alter the original agreement.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the MLBPA had grown "livid" over the email getting leaked to Sherman.

Even if owners were to prevail in the court of public opinion in the event of a work stoppage or strike this season, they have a strong incentive to continue negotiating with players to the point they all reach an accord. Doing so with minimal drama would be the ideal outcome.

Beyond the financial ramifications of a lost 2020 season, a prolonged pay dispute in the middle of a pandemic would do little to win over fans, some of whom were already starting to turn away from the game.