Adam Haseley

Tony Clark
Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

MLB’s latest proposal could drive wedge in MLBPA constituency

32 Comments

Earlier, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported that MLB ownership including a “sliding scale” salary structure in its proposal to the MLB Players Association as the two sides hash out details in an attempt to salvage a 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic. The “sliding scale” would have higher-paid players giving up a higher percentage of their salaries while the lesser-paid players would give up less.

On the surface, it’s a fairly logical proposal. If players were required to give up a flat percentage, it would hit those making close to the major league minimum hardest and the Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers of the world softest. A “sliding scale” offers the appearance of nuance and fairness.

It is, however, a very clever attempt by MLB ownership to drive a wedge among MLBPA constituents. SNY’s Andy Martino, citing former major league catcher and fellow SNY analyst Anthony Recker, said that there is a “very real” class divide among players. MLB leaks this proposal to the media on the day it makes a proposal to the MLBPA. Fans brace themselves ahead of time to get angry at the Trouts and Harpers for balking at the idea of losing $25 million in salary this year. Players bicker among themselves about whether or not it’s fair that Harper should have to forfeit a significant amount of money for the Roman Quinns and Adam Haseleys making just north of the major league minimum. The Quinns and Haseleys don’t have as much power within the union, but make up a higher percentage of its constituency.

This proposal takes most of the heat off of MLB ownership and puts it squarely on the players and their union. It becomes the players’ responsibility to decide for themselves who among them should give up money. As a union-busting tactic, it’s brilliant, and it comes at a time when the union needs solidarity more than ever. Hopefully, Tony Clark, Bruce Meyer, and the other powers-that-be at the MLBPA recognize this bald-faced attempt for what it is.

Speaking of class, The Athletic’s James Fegan reports that the White Sox will continue to pay their minor leaguers through the end of June. Currently, the arrangement for MLB teams to pay their minor leaguers $400 per week is set to expire at the end of the month. Minor leaguers are not represented by a union, so they stand to be forgotten while MLB ownership and the MLBPA negotiate the terms of a 2020 season.

Update: The union has responded to MLB’s proposal.