The fight to restart baseball has been shaped countless times as “millionaires vs. billionaires” — and while that’s a mostly true summation of each side, it doesn’t count everyone. For every Mike Trout or Bryce Harper in Major League Baseball these days, there are a handful of players making close to the league minimum.
And while the league minimum is still a healthy salary over 162 games, the coronavirus-shortened season will actually see nearly half the league making salaries a little more in line with common folks over 60 games.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, 42 percent of the league will make less than $100,000 for the 60-game season that commissioner Rob Manfred has started the process of imposing on players.
528 players (42% of players) will be paid 100K or less by MLB for the rest of the season after declining deal and forgoing 33M in salary forgiveness on the table considering the 170M advanced to players in March. (Union can consider small stipend to tide guys over.)
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 23, 2020
There’s a little more to this story, but on its face, it does a bit to kill the narrative that players are just greedy and overpaid. While Trout will still pull in $14 million over 60 games and various other stars are making more than $10 million, the MLB rank-and-file is certainly taking a pay hit.
Playing fewer games is part of it. But ownership and the players’ union couldn’t reach a new agreement to restart the season, so Manfred is using a March agreement between the two sides to mandate the number of games played so long as players get their prorated salaries (i.e. for 60 games, they get 37 percent of their 162-game salary).
An additional hit comes when you take into account that players got a $170 million salary advance in March. That money has to be paid back when games start, meaning players making the minimum are seeing their 162-game salaries of $563,000 turn into less than $100,000 for 60 games. In total, they’ll make about $208,000 for 2020.
As Heyman notes, one of the deals from ownership included forgiving $33 million of that $170 million, but the players union said no. The players also left postseason money on the table, too.
Their hope, however, according to reports, is that they can file and win a grievance against MLB owners for not negotiating in good faith. That grievance, the union believes, could be worth up to $900 million, if the players win.
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