Crazy is contagious in Orlando, it seems.
Get this. According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, Cliff Lee now has not just one, but two seven-year offers on the table for at least $20 million per season.
The thing is, it’s not clear who these teams might be, as both the Yankees and Rangers were reportedly reluctant to give a seven-year deal. That’s right. We have two mystery teams are in the mix for the free-agent left-hander.
One thing we do know is that the Angels aren’t one of them. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Angels general manager Tony Reagins said he has not many any formal contract offers to Lee, or even Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre or Rafael Soriano, for that matter.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Major League Baseball has rejected the MLBPA’s proposal for a 114-game season and said it would not send a counter offer. The league said it has started talks with owners “about playing a shorter season without fans, and that it is ready to discuss additional ideas with the union.”
This should be understood as a game of chicken.
The background here is that the the owners are pretty much locked into the idea of paying players a prorated share of their regular salaries based on number of games played. The players, meanwhile, are pretty much locked in to the idea that the owners can set the length of the season that is played. Each side is trying to leverage their power in this regard.
The players proposed a probably unworkable number of games — 114 — as a means of setting the bidding high on a schedule that will work out well for them financially. Say, a settled agreement at about 80 games or so. The owners were rumored to be considering a counteroffer of a low number of games — say, 50 — as a means of still getting a significant pay cut from the players even if they’re being paid prorata. What Rosenthal is now reporting is that they won’t even counter with that.
Which is to say that the owners are trying to get the players to come off of their prorated salary rights under the threat of a very short schedule that would end up paying them very little. They won’t formally offer that short schedule, however, likely because (a) they believe that the threat of uncertain action is more formidable; and (b) they don’t want to be in the position of publicly demanding fewer baseball games, which doesn’t look very good to fans. They’d rather be in the position of saying “welp, the players wouldn’t talk to us about money so we have no choice, they forced us into 50 games.”
In other news, the NBA seems very close to getting its season resumed.