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Report: Players to get a full year of service time for games played in 2020

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA have reached a tentative agreement in which all players who remain active throughout the coming season, whatever its length, will receive a full year of service time.

There is not an agreement about how much service time the players would receive if the pandemic leads to the cancellation of the entire season. Rosenthal says that, “both sides desire to play as many games as possible in 2020,” and that they have tabled discussion of what to do in case no games are played.” Hoping for the best, it seems.

The sides continue to talk about what to do about money. As we discussed last week, the uniform player contract, which contains all of the boilerplate applicable to every player, specifically allows teams to suspend contracts during a “national emergency.” Rosenthal says that the league, however, has not taken that aggressive a stance, and at one point offered a lump-sum advance of around $150 million to be paid to players on 40-man rosters, which breaks down to something north of $125,000 per player. The league’s proposal provides that players would keep their advance money even if the season resumes, but the league wants an agreement from players that they would not come back and sue for their full salaries later. As he said, talks continue.

There is still no word about a possible schedule. The league is following CDC recommendations that advise against gatherings of 50 or more people before May 10. Some sources inside baseball have said that it would take about a month for the league to gear back up to being game-ready, so the earliest one can imagine games taking place is mid-June. Rosenthal says that, in light of that, players and owners are discussing are talking about scheduled doubleheaders, the reduction of days off, and the extension of the regular season past its currently-scheduled final day of September 27.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.