Chicago Cubs fans are waiting and hoping for a season, shortened though it may be. Any baseball is better than no baseball. But no baseball is exactly what fans might get if MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred continues with his nonsense.
There is a deal already in place for the Chicago Cubs. It stipulates that players must take a prorated salary in the event of a shortened season. Sounds reasonable. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid, even if, as in this case, the reason for not working has nothing to do with the players not wanting to work. Tens of millions of us are in the same boat.
But now, Rob Manfred and his minions at MLB are once again mucking up baseball. This time it isn’t dumb ideas like moving the mound back two feet, making the bases bigger, or any of the other mind-numbingly bad pace of play ideas that have emanated from 1271 Avenue of the Americas, in New York, the pandemic capital of the world.
No, MLB is now trying to leverage more bucks from the players, apparently because a bunch of billionaire owners are crying in their caviar and champagne about how much they might lose this season.
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Chicago Cubs: Billionaires will still be billionaires
The prorated value of the MLBPA players’ contracts comes to billions of dollars. How much no can say because incentives are tough to calculate at this point. Just take the Cubs. The projected total salary for 2020 right now is $216.7 million. Half a season means salary savings for the Cubs of about $108 million, more or less.
My colleague Jacob Misner wrote how the Cubs could lose up to $200 million. Does my heart bleed for Tom Ricketts? Nope. He’ll be a billionaire owner when this year is over.
But Jon Lester will likely be out of baseball as the Cubs will certainly not exercise his 2021 $25 million option. The by then 37-year-old will be given his $10 million buyout and shown the door. See you, Jon, thanks for the memories. This would likely happen regardless of how this season went. To go out this way, playing a shortened season, with MLB clawing at what might be your last season prorated paycheck? It just stinks.
But isn’t it just those greedy players? Sure, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks, those greedy guys just want to make all the bucks they can. Sorry, I can’t go there. Frankly, I don’t care how much players earn. We go to games and tune in on our TVs and devices to watch players, not billionaire owners or Rob Manfred.
Chicago Cubs: Sometimes the numbers do lie
The deal also says that if certain conditions, like having fans in attendance, are not met, and they have not been, then there can be a renegotiation of the deal. MLB says teams could lose $4.0 billion if fans aren’t in the stands.
So the owners’ and MLB’s “offer” is the proposition that has players giving up more money, or MLB will cancel the season. The rationale behind this offer was shot down by our sabermetric friends at FanGraphs. Nice try Rob Manfred. It’s not smart to lie about your position when you have millions of metric savvy fans and observers out there.
The real insult of Manfred’s “offer” is to us, the fans. This is nothing more than a ham-handed attempt to alienate fans from players by dangling a canceled season over us. That was made very clear when the Commissioner’s office leaked an email from an MLBPA lawyer that dealt with the renegotiation.
That’s no way bargain in good faith, and a take-it-or-leave-it offer is not a “renegotiation.” It’s a declaration of war. If it comes to that, we’ll remember who started it.
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There’s a number out there to be found. Manfred needs to stop the nonsense. Both sides need to sit down, do a deal, and get this season started. In the end, there will be a deal because everyone loses if no one plays.