Baseball players say talks futile, tell MLB to order return – The Denver Post

NEW YORK – Baseball players told Major League Baseball that further talks to start the season during the coronavirus pandemic were unnecessary and said owners should order a return to work, which would likely trigger lengthy litigation and the return of sport to labor wars.

The union’s action on Saturday night could result in a season of about 50 games rather than the 82 originally proposed by MLB. The Major League Baseball Players Association could respond by filing a grievance that would be heard by arbitrator Mark Irvings, arguing the players owe hundreds of millions of dollars in damages due to a shorter season.

“Unfortunately it appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile,” union leader Tony Clark said in a statement. “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.

There was no immediate response from MLB.

As the NBA, NHL and MLS reached agreements to return this summer from the coronavirus, baseball fell into the fractured labor dispute that led to eight work stoppages from 1972 to 1995. The union followed a convention collective bargaining at the end of 2016 that led to relatively flat wages for five straight years, an unsuccessful grievance accusing the Chicago Cubs of manipulating third baseman Kris Bryant’s service time to delay his free agency eligibility, and a grievance accusing teams of misusing revenue-sharing proceeds, a process the union calls “tanking.”

“Given your continued insistence on hundreds of millions of dollars in additional pay cuts, we assume these negotiations are over,” chief union negotiator Bruce Meyer wrote in a letter to Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem on Saturday. was obtained by the Associated Press. “If you intend to unilaterally impose a season, we again ask that you inform us and our members of the number of games you intend to play and when and where the players must report. It is unfair to leave players and fans in abeyance at this stage, and further delay risks compromising health and safety. We ask that you let us know your plans before the close of business on Monday.

The players and MLB agreed to a deal on March 26 calling for pro-rated salaries, a deal that included $170 million in salary advances and a guaranteed time of service for 2020 even if no games are played. is played.

The deal gave baseball commissioner Rob Manfred the right to start the season provided there were no travel restrictions and games could be played before fans at regular season baseball diamonds. He called for “good faith” negotiations to play in empty baseball diamonds or neutral venues.

Players insist they shouldn’t have to accept additional cuts.

“Player solidarity has never been so focused in years,” said Scott Boras, baseball’s most prominent agent, who has three clients on the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee.

MLB made three economic offers last Friday, and the union offered two. The sub-executive committee held a call on Saturday followed by a larger group of around 100 players, including the full executive committee and others.

The parties remain far apart on how much players should receive of the $4 billion in salaries they were originally slated to earn: MLB has offered to guarantee $1.27 billion and increase the total to $1.45 billion dollars if the playoffs are over. The players want $2.25 billion.

“The players want to play. It’s who we are and what we do,” Clark said. “Since March, the association has made it clear that our No. 1 goal is to play the fullest season possible, as soon as possible, in the safest way possible. Players accepted billions in monetary concessions as a means to achieve this goal, and in the face of repeated media leaks and misdirection, we made additional proposals to inject new revenue into the industry – proposals that would benefit owners, players, broadcast partners and fans. look alike. It has now become apparent that these efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

The owners must now decide whether to go ahead with a shortened schedule, perhaps 48 or 50 games. A 50-game regular season with pro-rated salaries would total $1.23 billion, leaving the union to seek about $1 billion plus interest in damages if the case proceeds to a decision and the players prevailed.

The parties’ March agreement stated that “each of the parties will work in good faith to begin, play and complete the most complete 2020 league season and economically feasible post-season as soon as possible”, in accordance with the other provisions.

“In recent days, owners have exposed the alleged unprofitability of owning a baseball team and the commissioner has repeatedly threatened to schedule a dramatically shortened season unless players agree to hundreds of millions in additional concessions” , said Clark. “Our response has been consistent that such concessions are unjustified, would be fundamentally unfair to the players and that our sport deserves the fullest 2020 season possible. These remain our positions today, especially in light of new reports regarding MLB’s national television rights – information we requested from the league weeks ago but were never provided. .

The players argue that the teams’ financial accounts do not reflect the revenue they derive from regional sports networks, real estate projects surrounding ballpark developments and other below-the-line activities such as stock sales. in BAM Tech at The Walt Disney Co. and the NHL.

The New York Post reported on Saturday that MLB and Turner are closing in on a deal for the rights starting in 2022, the season after Turner’s current contract for a series of league championships and a set of regular season broadcasts on Sundays in the second half of the season.

“We have fulfilled any obligation to ‘discuss’ with you the economic feasibility of playing games without fans,” Meyer wrote.

He accused Halem of “underhanded tactics to circumvent the union” and said “your approach was one delaying tactic after another.”

Meyer criticized MLB’s May 12 opening economic discussion, which claimed teams would lose $640,000 for every additional regular-season game played.

“Your own selfish slide presentation showed that the league as a whole will lose far less money playing a season than not playing a season, and Rob admitted this in response to a direct question,” wrote Halem. “As to the other claims in the presentation, we found it incomplete, unclear and unconvincing and asked for information that would allow us to verify it. Your final response was completely inadequate.

MLB provided summaries of regional sports network deals last month, but not the actual deals.

“For example, we have still never received unredacted RSN and national television contracts or sponsorship deals, details of ongoing discussions with television networks and sponsors, or projections of the value of any expanded playoff,” Meyer wrote.

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