Cliff Lee gave his introductory news conference with the Phillies earlier this afternoon (see the video below). There were a few notable quotes from Lee. One was about how Philly fans are great because “they don’t need a teleprompter to tell them too cheer.” I suppose that could be construed as a swipe at the fans in either Texas or Seattle, so that’s fun.
More interesting to me was when he was asked about taking the shorter, less-guaranteed money deal to come to Philly. His response.
“When you hit a certain point, enough is enough.”
Money, that is. Which I imagine is a quote that some people will run with in the next 24 hours as evidence that Lee is selfless and team-oriented and stuff. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone who does run with it also notes that, if Lee pitches as well as he believes he can over the next five years, he’ll end up making more money on this deal than he would have on the Yankees deal. And that he’s making more per-year for each of the next five years than he would have on the Yankees.
Which isn’t to slam Lee, of course. Good for him for going where he wanted on what are really great terms. But just be wary of anyone who spins this as a selfless deal in which he turned down the big Yankee dollars on a matter of principle. Because anyone writing that is distorting things pretty significantly.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.
Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.
If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.
Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.