We have been hearing the rumors for a few days now that Major League Baseball is acknowledging that they have the power to unilaterally determine the length of a 2020 season as long as they pay the players their already agreed upon prorated salaries. And with that threat has come the idea of a 50-60 game regular season, and then expanded playoffs. Well, this morning at ESPN, Jeff Passan notes that the season MLB would actually impose if they can’t get the players to take another pay cut could be as short as 48 games.
Now, as Passan notes, the owners are willing to pay prorated salary at 48 games and the players are willing to do so at 82 games (they actually said 114 games, but since that stretches into November, it’s never going to be on the table in reality).
Seeing as they would settle for a full pro rata at 1,230 total games, the projected losses from owners based on the $640,000-per-game figure is crucial for this exercise: $787,200,000. Compared to the projected losses owners would face in the 48-game season they’re ready to rubber-stamp, playing an 82-game season would cost $326,400,000 more.
And there you have it. Distilled to the simplest form, Major League Baseball is in crisis because of a $326 million problem.
That last sentence is key. There are ownership groups who, according to Passan, are not willing to take any more losses than they’ve already agreed to take and if the players aren’t willing to budge on their salary, it’s going to be an issue of a very short season. The players, too, don’t seem willing to budge on another concession in pay and that’s why it feels we’re in a situation where we struggle to find too much confidence. Obviously some of this is negotiation tactics 101, but for as close as the two seem to be, they seem to also be light years apart.