Max Scherzer calls for financial transparency from MLB owners as tension mounts

There will be no new salary counter proposal from baseball’s players union without financial transparency, according to Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, a member of the union’s eight-man executive board who on Wednesday night appeared to answer Major League Baseball’s request for further salary cuts from the previous day.

An already tense negotiation between owners and players over compensation in a shortened season appeared to have taken a day to compose itself. Then, Scherzer, the three-time Cy Young Award winner whose $35-million salary makes him one of the game’s top earners, issued the following statement via Twitter:

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. 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 documentation were to become public information.”

The Players Association had sought from owners disclosure of financial records that might justify a system of revenue sharing or, per Tuesday’s proposal, a sliding scale that would significantly cut the salaries of the game’s best-paid players.

Reached late Wednesday night, union officials did not seek to correct or modify Scherzer’s statement.

In a multi-pronged negotiation, and amid hopes training camps could open in the second week of June in time for an opening day in the first week of July, the sides also have discussed health and safety protocols along with other economic variables. If there is a season, it would at least start without fans, a significant financial hit to owners. According to The Athletic, the union could suggest a season longer than the 82 games proposed by MLB, which offered the players a greater share of revenues from a longer postseason. Some players and agents have backed a system that would include prorated salaries with some of the money deferred with interest.

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch in the first inning during the spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 22, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, a member of the union's executive subcommittee, delivered a firm statement via Twitter indicating players will not back down as MLB proposes further salary cuts. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

On March 26, owners agreed to a prorated salary system with the understanding terms could change if games were held without fans. Union officials have not publicly granted that understanding. The league agreed to award players with the service time of a full season, regardless of the length of the season, and provided approximately $180 million to go toward players’ salaries while games were not played.

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