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Owners propose 76-game season, but still insist on cutting pro-rated salaries

The latest offer is expected to be rejected by the players.

2019 ALCS Game 3 - Houston Astros v. New York Yankees Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Owners have submitted a new compensation plan to players, according to ESPN reporter Karl Ravech and other sources, proposing to guarantee 50 percent of their pro-rated salaries for a 76-game season, with the opportunity to earn 75 percent of their pro-rated salary if the post-season is not cancelled. The season would begin on July 10 and end on September 27, with an expanded post-season ending in late October. Owners would also eliminate draft pick compensation for free agents this off-season and would forgive $34 million of the $176 million advance they gave players back in March.

The proposal is a small move off the previous proposals owners have made. They originally offered an 82-game season with a 50/50 revenue split with players that was rejected and have also proposed a 48-game schedule that would pay 100 percent of pro-rated salaries. This proposal would pay players marginally more than the 48-game season, for an additional 28 games. For example, a player who had a $1 million salary going into this year would be paid $296,296 under the 48-game season, and $351,851 under the 76-game season if they receive 75 percent of their pro-rated salary.

The proposal has been met with resistance by players, who are holding firm on their insistence that owners live up to the deal agreed to back in March to guaranteed 100 percent of pro-rated salaries. While the current proposal potentially more money if a post-season is played, it asks players to share the risk of loss if the post-season is cancelled.

Additionally, while the proposal to remove draft pick compensation may seem like a concession, it would actually remove the draft as a negotiating point that the union would have any say over. Since draftees are not part of the union, the only way the MLBPA has a nexus to the draft to negotiate over terms is through the fact that draft picks are awarded as compensation for departing free agents. If that is taken away entirely, owners can unilaterally impose their own rules on the draft.

Owners have given players until Wednesday to accept the proposal. Baseball would need several weeks to prepare for a season, to allow for players to travel back to their club’s location, to install protective measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread, and to allow players to get back into baseball-playing shape. Owners could try to implement their own schedule and compensation system unilaterally, but would be met with a grievance filed by the union and even greater animosity going into labor negotiations in 2021 for a new collective bargaining agreement.