MLB and the players’ association are making progress in negotations on a host of issues that have sprung up as the 2020 season has been put on hold due to the coronavirus, according to reports early Wednesday morning by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The negotations are expected to conclude, with or without an agreement, by the end of the day:
MLB, union make progress on contentious service-time questions, working to complete agreement. Story: https://t.co/tUNjsybKEB— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 25, 2020
The latest on the state of MLB, packed with news, including:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 25, 2020
- MLB/MLBPA deal coming together
- Teams pledging to pay employees
- Potential start dates
- Minor league pay
- Doubleheaders galore
- Neutral-site playoff potential
Much more with @kileymcd: https://t.co/vjZAqKgJ7J
A quick summary of the issues and where the negotations reportedly stand:
- The most important discussion relates to how much service time players would receive in the event of a shortened season, but Rosenthal reports that MLB has already agreed to give players who remain active for the entire season a full year of service time, no matter how many games are played. With discussions tabled indefinitely on how this issue would be addressed in the case of a cancelled season, this wasn’t going to be too contentious of an issue unless the owners were insistent upon making it one, which obviously wouldn’t have been a great look in the wake of a global health crisis.
- The biggest issue the two sides are still negotiating is player payment. The league offered a lump-sum advance of $150 million to the players earlier in the negotations, which would be distributed at different proportions among four different classes of players: those who are on 40-man rosters for the first time, those with low-salary split contracts who earn different salaries depending on whether they’re in the majors or minors; those with higher-salary split contracts, and those with guaranteed major-league deals.
- Employee payment and retention will be an issue, and while Rob Manfred has asked owners not to lay off team employees or reduce their salaries at this time, it remains to be seen whether there will be any formal legislation protecting those individuals.
- While MLB announced an interim minor-league payment plan last week, it remains to be seen what kind of financial support minor-leaguers will get when that agreement expires on April 8. Passan reports that they’re likely to be paid a rate close to their normal salaries. Considering that most of them earn salaries below or just barely over minimum wage, that’s not really something that should be celebrated, but it’s better than nothing.
- Scheduling issues, including the acceptable amount of doubleheaders that can be played in order to fit more games into the schedule, potential neutral-site games for teams that play in high-risk areas, games without fans, and the timeframe for a second “spring training” continue to be discussed. Passan writes that there’s widespread interest in playing multiple doubleheaders per week, which would almost certainly necessitate an single-season expansion of the regular-season roster beyond the current 26-man limit.
- As has been reported in multiple publications over the past week, there continues to be momentum toward canceling the draft and postponing the international signing period as a way to limit teams’ expenses during the current financial crisis, according to Passan.