Jorge Soler
AP Images

Video: Jorge Soler takes AL lead with home run no. 47


With Mike Trout ruled out for the season, the only American League player left to challenge his spot on the AL home run leaderboard was Royals designated hitter Jorge Soler. Entering Saturday’s game, Soler was tied with Trout at 45 homers apiece, still a significant number above the second-place Alex Bregman, with 41, and third-place Nelson Cruz, with 40.

He rectified that during the Royals’ 4-3 loss to the Twins, however, not only snapping the tie with his 46th blast of the season, but moving ahead with his 47th as well. In the bottom of the first inning, he worked a 2-2 count against Minnesota right-hander Cody Stashak, then punched a 93-m.p.h. fastball out to deep center field for a 1-0 lead:

Several innings later, against a 3-1 deficit, Soler pounced on a first-pitch slider from reliever Tyler Duffey and returned it to the left field stands to tie the game — and all but cement his place as the 2019 AL home run leader.

With home run no. 47 under his belt, Soler moves into third place in the league, tied with Cody Bellinger (47) and just a hair below Eugenio Suárez (49). The overall league leader is still Mets’ rookie Pete Alonso, who broke the all-time rookie home run record with his 52nd blast against the Braves on Friday.

Although he’s unlikely to capture the league title at this point, the Royals’ slugger still hit an impressive — and career-best — mark. Prior to Saturday’s contest, he boasted a .263/.352/.555 batting line with 113 RBI, a .907 OPS, and 3.3 fWAR through 671 plate appearances. His 47 home runs still stand as the single-season franchise record.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images

On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: