Baseball may not even happen this year, but Max Scherzer is still throwing heat.
In a late-night Twitter missive Wednesday, Scherzer, the Nationals’ ace, ripped the player pay plan that MLB proposed to the Players Association on Tuesday. That proposal called for more salary reductions — further dropping the already prorated salaries the players agreed to in March — with the highest-paid players getting hit hardest.
Scherzer, who is on the union’s eight-player executive subcommittee, is one of the few players to speak publicly amid the baseball restart talks.
“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” Scherzer wrote. “We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received.
“I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all the documentation were to become public.”
The last half of the last sentence is a reference to the one-sided public knowledge of money that long has been a part of baseball. The information that Scherzer would have made about $35 million in a normal 2020 season, for example, is readily available. But MLB team owners don’t reveal how much money they make in a given year, nor do they share their entire financial picture with the union, so there is a degree of distrust between the parties.
After Scherzer's tweet, ESPN reported Wednesday night that the union plans to submit to MLB an economic proposal — without any concessions — by the end of the week. According to multiple reports, the players plan to pitch a season of more than 100 games.
The players agreed to prorated salaries in March. Under MLB’s current 82-game proposal, that would mean salaries getting cut in about half.
The owners want players to take less pay to make up for lessened revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. MLB plans not to allow fans into ballparks for at least most and perhaps all of the hypothetical 2020 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that gate and gate-related sales account for about 40% of teams’ local revenue.
The sides began negotiating terms to restart the sport on May 12 but didn’t get to discussing player pay until two weeks later, this past Tuesday. That is when MLB pitched the sliding scale pay cuts idea, which the players did not receive well.
MLB’s plan calls for spring training to start by mid-June and for the season to start in early July, leaving the owners and players with about a week to come to an agreement.