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Negotiations between Major League Baseball owners and players for a 2020 season appear to be in the ninth inning as the owners propose a new salary plan that they believe players will accept — allowing the 2020 season to begin in a matter of weeks, FOX Business has learned.
The sticking point in the new baseball season, as major sporting events begin to emerge following the pandemic lockdown, has always been money. Players gave the cold shoulder to a recent plan by MLB and its commissioner, Rob Manfred, to have players and owners split all revenues 50/50 from a shortened season.
Players argued the plan was tantamount to a salary cap, the limit on how much players can make, which they have long fought against during contract negotiations. Owners initially said they just didn’t have enough money to maintain that structure because so much of MLB’s revenue comes from fans and concessions that would be eliminated in a coronavirus pandemic-shortened season. People with knowledge of the matter tell FOX Business the new plan being proposed would include no cap on salary. Players will take a pay cut but be able to make more money depending on the number of games being played, and of course, if they make the playoffs, these people say.
Players would be guaranteed a salary, but it would grow as the season progresses. People close to the plan say the way it's structured, lower-paid players could receive a higher percentage of their salary then higher-paid players depending of course on how many games are played.
As of press time it’s unclear if players will approve the plan; some owners expect a counteroffer by the players union, but caution if a deal isn't struck soon, it could jeopardize the season that has been on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The salary issue, however, was seen as the main source of contention in the league's plan to salvage baseball that includes myriad health protocols, fan-less games at least for the time being, and only about half a normal schedule.
Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, did not return calls and emails for comment. A spokesman for the Players Association also did not return a request for comment. An MLB spokesman did not return a request for comment.
Both players and owners have a lot to lose if there is no baseball season in 2020. Owners could lose an estimated $4 billion in revenue if there isn’t some semblance of a season, while players will lose their salaries given the way most contracts read.
The final proposal is likely to be formulated early this evening, people close to the matter tell FOX Business.