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As health talks continue, MLB to toss economic proposal to union Tuesday, source says

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks at

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks at the National Press Club July 16, 2018 in Washington, DC.  Credit: Getty Images/Win McNamee

With progress being made this week on the health front, MLB will submit its economic proposal to the Players Association on Tuesday, a source confirmed.

With the clock ticking on a projected June start for spring training, figuring out how to play during this pandemic remains a work in progress as the two sides continue their discussions of MLB’s 67-page operations manual delivered to the union last Friday. But coming up with a new salary structure for this anticipated 82-game season has turned into a contentious process, likely to require every minute up to the point when players actually show up for spring training.

The Athletic was the first to report that MLB will make its financial pitch Tuesday.

Initially, MLB talked about a revenue-sharing plan, featuring a 50-50 split with the players, to cover their remaining salaries under the economic hit teams would suffer without fans (i.e. paying customers) in the stadiums. But the union insists any talk of revenue-sharing is a non-starter at the negotiating table; in their view, it represents a de facto salary cap.

The union believes the players are rightfully owed prorated salaries, based on the number of games played, according to the March 26 agreement. Union chief Tony Clark repeatedly has said the topic is closed for discussion and players will not consider any more reductions in salary.

Still, MLB has pointed to a clause in the same agreement that calls for further negotiation of salaries if games are played without spectators, based on the economic “feasibility” of resuming the season.

Owners anticipate huge losses incurred from the absence of gate-related revenues, and according to The Associated Press, MLB has calculated it will lose $640,000 per game, on average, if those prorated salaries are paid and fans aren’t permitted in ballparks. So where does that leave both sides regarding the subject of player compensation?

MLB could try to formulate a revenue-sharing model that might appeal to the union, or perhaps offer to defer some of this season’s money to subsequent years in order to get closer to the prorated values.

The two sides have been very far apart on their financial vision for a truncated season while publicly expressing little desire to be flexible on salary issues. Obviously, there will need to be some bend in these negotiations for a baseball season to occur. Just how much bend should start to be revealed Tuesday.

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