Salary concessions being spun by owners as ‘historic revenue-sharing plan’

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We talked in detail yesterday about how the owners are expected to seek salary concessions from players over and above that to which they already agreed in March. Today the owners are supposed to vote on those demands before communicating them to the players tomorrow.

As we also discussed, there will no doubt be a heavy public relations element to the proposal as well. Today, via Bob Nightengale’s report at USA Today, we’re seeing the form it’ll take:

Major League Baseball owners, with an abundance of optimism that baseball will be played this year, are scheduled to vote on a plan Monday that will require teams to share at least 48% of their revenue with the Major League Baseball Players Association this season, two people with direct knowledge of the proposal told USA TODAY Sports.

The people, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were unauthorized to discuss details, said the historic revenue-sharing plan is integral to diminish revenue losses with games potentially being played without fans beginning in July.

You lead with the “abundance of optimism” to make any resistance to the owners’ renegotiation efforts seem negative. To make the players seem like the impediment to the return of baseball. Then you couch the owners’ effort to get more concessions from the players as an “historic” opportunity. As if the players not agreeing to it — which would, without question, lower their compensation below the levels to which they already agreed — is an ungrateful abdication of their role in “history.”

Weird that “history” is coming now, when Major League Baseball faces the first reduction in revenue in over 20 years. For some reason the owners were never too interested in making such “history” when the year-over-year revenue chart looked like this:

As I said yesterday: the league and its owners are demanding all of the upsides of good economic fortune but none of the risks of bad ones. They are asking to privatize all of the profits but socialize all of the losses. That’s not “historic” that’s “opportunistic.”

All the spin aside, this all comes down to two questions:

First: which side is correct with respect to what the March agreement on salary says about what to do regarding games with no fans? Are the owners correct that the players have agreed to renegotiate salary if there are games with no fans or are the players correct in their claim that the language about renegotiation is about whether or not to play with no fans at all, with salary already decided in each scenario? That should be a threshold matter. If it’s in serious dispute, it’s a matter that could wind up in litigation. Quite a mess. My suspicion: someone will leak the text of it soon if it supports their view on the matter.

Second: if the former is correct and the players must negotiate with owners on a new compensation scheme AND if they agree to at least discuss profit-sharing, what information is ownership going to provide them about revenue? What revenue are they willing to share? My understanding is that under the Collective Bargaining Agreement MLBPA is entitled to limited sorts of data. Gate, TV money, sponsorships, team and league projections, and that sort of thing. They do not, however, get details about how much, say, Ballpark Village in St. Louis makes the Cardinals or The Battery Development in Atlanta makes the Braves. Which, given that they have not previously had any sort of revenue share with owners, makes sense. They didn’t necessarily need it all to make a labor deal. Now they do.

Moreover, assuming they get a revenue figure submitted to them, why should the players trust that it is accurate? This is a legitimate question because anyone who has studied the history baseball labor knows that MLB and its owners are notorious for being oblique and even deceptive when it comes to revenue. Fifty percent — er, I’m sorry, according to this article, now 48 percent — of  . . . what? Confidence in that denominator matters before “history” can be made, and that’s not something that is going to be accomplished easily given the history at play here.

However this ultimately ends up, expect to see more of this sentiment in the next couple of days. Of MLB and its owners being cast as standing on the verge of bringing people back live, big league sports, with only those stubborn, greedy players standing athwart “history,” and shouting “no!”

And then expect the politicians to wade in. Indeed, I’d expect one of them, who is a famous social media user, to weigh in at any moment.

Jacob deGrom, oft-injured Rangers ace, to have season-ending right elbow surgery

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ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers signed Jacob deGrom to a $185 million, five-year deal in free agency last winter hoping the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner could help them get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and make a push toward winning a World Series.

They also knew the risks, with the pitcher coming off two injury-plagued seasons with the New York Mets.

Even with deGrom sidelined since late April, the AL West-leading Rangers are off to the best start in franchise history – but now will be without their prized acquisition until at least next year. The team said Tuesday that deGrom will have season-ending surgery next week to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“We’ve got a special group here and to not be able to be out there and help them win, that stinks,” deGrom said, pausing several times with tears in his eyes. “Wanting to be out there and helping the team, it’s a disappointment.”

General manager Chris Young said Tuesday the decision on surgery came after an MRI on deGrom’s ailing right elbow, but the extent of what is required might not be determined until the operation is performed next week.

Tommy John surgery, in which the damaged ligament is replaced, is often needed to fix a torn UCL, but Young and the Rangers didn’t go as far as saying the pitcher would have that particular procedure. After being drafted by the New York Mets in 2010, deGrom made six starts in the minors that summer before needing Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2011, three years before his big league debut.

DeGrom last pitched April 28 against the New York Yankees, when he exited early because of injury concerns for the second time in a span of three starts. The announcement about surgery came a day after deGrom was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Young said the latest MRI showed more inflammation and significant structural damage in the ligament that wasn’t there on the scan after deGrom left the game against the Yankees.

“The results of that MRI show that we have not made progress. And in fact, we’ve identified some damage to the ligament,” Young said. “It’s obviously a tough blow for Jacob, for certainly the Rangers. But we do feel this is what is right for Jacob in his career. We’re confident he’ll make a full recovery.”

Young and deGrom, who turns 35 later this month, said the goal is for the pitcher to return near the end of next season. Both said they were glad to have clarity on what was wrong with the elbow.

Texas won all six games started by deGrom (2-0), but the right-hander threw only 30 1/3 innings. He has a 2.67 ERA with 45 strikeouts and four walks. He threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees in his last start before leaving because of discomfort in his arm.

The Rangers went into Tuesday night’s game against St. Louis with a 39-20 record, the first time they were 19 games over .500 since the end of 2016, their last winning season.

Before going home to Florida over the weekend for the birth of his third child, deGrom threw his fifth bullpen last Wednesday in Detroit.

“I’d have days where I’d feel really good, days where I didn’t feel great. So I was kind of riding a roller coaster there for a little bit,” deGrom said. “They said originally there, we just saw some inflammation. … Getting an MRI right after you pitch, I feel like anybody would have inflammation. So, you know, I was hoping that that would get out of there and I would be fine. But it just didn’t work out that way.”

DeGrom spent his first nine big league seasons with the Mets, but was limited by injuries to 156 1/3 innings over 26 starts during his last two years in New York.

He had a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021 before missing the final three months of the season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow.

The four-time All-Star didn’t make his first big league start last year until Aug. 2 after being shut down late in spring training because of a stress reaction in his right scapula.

His latest injury almost surely will trigger Texas’ conditional option on deGrom’s contract for 2028.

The option takes effect if deGrom has Tommy John surgery on his right elbow from 2023-26 or has any right elbow or shoulder injury that causes him to be on the IL for any period of 130 consecutive days during any season or 186 days in a row during any service period.

The conditional option would be for $20 million, $30 million or $37 million, depending on deGrom’s performance during the contract and health following the 2027 season.

“I feel bad for Jake. If I know Jake, he’ll have the surgery and come back and finish his career strong,” second-year Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “I know how much it means to him. He enjoys pitching. It’s certainly sad news for all of us.”