After days of stagnation, all of the sudden baseball seems to have woken up.
The players put out their proposal on Sunday night and, as we said in the edit yesterday, showed a bit of openness to the owners’ position. Yesterday afternoon, the news came down that the owners would be countering with pro-rated salaries, but for 50-60 games instead of 82 as originally thought or 114 as the players had advocated for.
Now, if the owners are planning to hold fast to that sort of season, not only would the players never agree to it but I’d not be that fond of the idea either. For the players, they would be looking at salaries similar to the original proposal by the owners, though obviously spread out instead of focused as before. Mike Trout is supposed to get $35 million this year. A 60-game season would have him bringing in $11.5. Obviously still a lot of money, but obviously much less than he was expecting.
For me, anything under half a season isn’t really a legitimate season. Say you play 50 games and go 2-8 out of the gate. Your season is pretty much over, right, without some sort of remarkable turnaround? For comparison, that’d be like starting a regular 162 games season 6-26. You do that and nobody expects anything out of you, but at least that’s a month of games. We’re talking less than two weeks and you could start packing for home, even with expanded playoffs.
With expanded playoffs and a season that short, it’s almost inevitable some sort of sub-.500 team gets in and could win the whole thing, because 50 games really doesn’t tell you anything. This time last year teams had played about 55 games. And, to be fair, all the teams leading in the AL wound up winning their divisions. In the NL, though, Philadelphia had a three game lead over the Braves, the Cubs were up a 1/2 game on the Brewers, and…well, LA was running away with the West. So maybe a season like that has some relevance, but not much in my mind. I mean, if there had been expanded playoffs last year after 55 games, the Rockies would have made it at 29-27. In case you have forgotten, the Rockies finished the year 20 games under .500.
However, it’s probably not worth getting worked up about because this, most likely, is just the owners taking a step toward the players.
Players Association opened the door on deferrals yesterday.
MLB opened the door on giving them prorated salaries today.
So approximately 82 games, with prorated salaries, and possibly some deferrals, seems to be the middle ground here.
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) June 1, 2020
(OK, so after seeing a little more about this, the owners are saying they’ll still negotiate, but if things don’t pan out, they will implement this shorter season because the March agreement gives them the power over the schedule. If this is just the worst-case scenario, well, I guess it’s better than the worse-case scenario of no baseball that we’ve been looking at it.)
If the two can somehow agree to meet in the middle (which, not surprisingly, is right around 82 games), perhaps there can be a season after all. There’s still a lot to be done–there were supposedly disagreements on the health and safety aspects and some of the details in that, such as setting up testing labs and having enough kits to do regular testing, may be still more wishing than concrete plans. However, this has to be the most optimistic I’ve been on a season happening in quite some time. Let’s hope there’s not another blow waiting around the corner to knock us back into pessimism!