Report: Some MLB Owners Are 'Perfectly Willing to Shut Down the Season'

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 31, 2020

BOSTON, MA - MAY 25: The American flag is dropped over the Green Monster on Memorial Day as the Major League Baseball season is postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic on May 25, 2020 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

MLB and MLBPA are far apart in negotiations regarding financial concerns for the 2020 season, whose start has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, some MLB owners wouldn't mind if MLB took the field next in 2021, per ESPN's Buster Olney.

"Sources say there is a group of owners perfectly willing to shut down the season, to slash payroll costs and reduce losses, and the disparate views among the 30 teams have been reflected in the decisions to fire and furlough," Olney wrote.

Teams have been firing, furloughing and cutting pay for staff members en masse. Of note, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on May 22 that the Los Angeles Angels planned to furlough 17 area scouts.

Also, the Oakland Athletics will not pay their minor leaguers a $400 stipend from June through the rest of the season, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.

Olney described the divide between owners and players as a "gaping chasm of suspicion and frustration."

That feeling, from the players' perspective, largely derives from the owners' proposal that player compensation would come from 50 percent of the league's 2020 revenue rather than the salary structure as currently constituted, per Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark provided his thoughts:

"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."

MLB also posited a sliding salary scale in another proposal, per ESPN's Jeff Passan, in which the highest-paid players in the game would earn just 20 percent of their salary:

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

The salary scale in the proposal is: - $0 to $563,500 (league minimum) paid at 90% - $563,501 to $1 million paid at 72.5% - $1,000,001 to $5 million paid at 50% - $5,000,001 to $10 million paid at 40% - $10,000,001 to $20 million paid at 30% - $20,000,001 and up paid at 20%

That did not sit well with players, including Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer:

Max Scherzer @Max_Scherzer


Furthermore, more labor strife in 2020 might also cause issues for 2021, when the collective bargaining agreement expires, per Olney:

"Next spring, with only months remaining in the current collective bargaining agreement, the players are more apt to use the threat of a strike. Owners, already damaged by the money losses this year, could be more inclined to dig in and wait out the players, aiming for a lasting reconstruction of baseball's financial model. The labor fight could go on and on, and by the time it all plays out, it's impossible to know how many fans, feeling alienated or disgusted, will leave baseball behind once and for all."

The cancellation of the entire 2020 season would mark the first time no professional baseball was played in the American or National League since 1875, the year before the birth of the NL.