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Dodgers to implement salary cuts to avoid furloughs or layoffs

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have informed their full-time employees that they will not impose furloughs or layoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic, but instead will begin a system of tiered salary cuts beginning on June 1, sources told ESPN.

The Associated Press has previously reported that the Dodgers are projected to lose $232 million this year, making them the second-hardest-hit team in the league behind the New York Yankees, who are projected to lose $312 million, due to the pandemic.

The Dodgers informed hundreds of their employees in a Zoom call Tuesday afternoon that the salary cuts — which will range from 0 to 35% or more for top executives — are being made to save jobs and prevent furloughs, sources said. Employees were told salary reductions will affect only full-time employees making over $75,000 a year.

Most of baseball’s 30 teams have pledged to pay their full-time employees through the end of May. But that commitment has softened as the shutdown has continued.

ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez reported Tuesday that the Oakland Athletics will furlough almost all of their amateur and professional scouts and about three-quarters of their player development employees. That’s on par with the furloughs announced by Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 19, in their player development and scouting departments, as well as minor league staff beginning in June.

The Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays and A’s had previously announced they would implement furloughs and/or layoffs.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said baseball will lose $4 billion in revenue this season, and he has given the teams permission to cut payroll.

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2020 MLB schedule release winners and losers — Which teams face biggest challenges?

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The annual release of the Major League Baseball schedule is usually a pretty fun night. You get to see what’s lined up for Opening Day. You see how specialty games — like the one in Williamsport, Penn. or the once-planned series this year in London — fit onto the calendar. Most of all, it’s the unfurling of 2,430 glorious games of baseball that will play out over six months. The original version of the 2020 schedule was released way back in August of last year. It feels like a different epoch.

Monday’s release of the shortened version of the 2020 schedule didn’t quite stack up to the usual flurry of excitement. Of the 2,430 games we usually get, this time there will be 900, or at least we hope there will be. Sixty games per team, the fewest in the major leagues since the 1870s, will determine who squeezes into the usual playoff format. Of the many things we could say about such a state of things, we can at least say this: We’ve never seen a big-league schedule like this one.

Strength of schedule isn’t usually a big factor in deciding the final standings. Teams competing for the same division titles usually play nearly identical schedules. There is a bit of variation for the teams competing for wild-card slots, but it’s not typically a deciding factor. This time, however, relative schedule strength has a wider range than any season we’ve had.

That’s because of the unprecedented formula for this year’s slate. Teams will play 40 of their 60 games within their own division (67 percent). That number is significantly higher than a typical season, when teams face division opponents 76 times (47 percent). The other 20 games will be intraleague matchups — the exact same number in which teams usually face the opposite circuit. However, those 20 matchups now comprise a third of each team’s schedule (33 percent) rather than having them spread across 162 games (12 percent).

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Patrick Mahomes tops Mike Trout for biggest contract in sports history

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The coronavirus pandemic put a halt to virtually every major sport in the world, but it couldn’t stop the sports business from booming — at least if you’re an elite athlete, the best of the best.

In March 2019, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout signed the largest contract in professional sports history, worth $426.5 million. Just sixteen months later, despite a virus that has wreaked havoc across the globe, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has topped Trout.

Of course, Mahomes is coming off a 50-touchdown, 5,000-yard season in 2018 and a Super Bowl title in 2019.

In case you’re curious, here are the top five contracts on the all-time list, according to ESPN Stats & Information:



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Dodgers’ Mookie Betts fully prepared but has doubts on starting of season

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Major League Baseball released its schedule for an unprecedented 60-game season Monday, on a day when the sport’s return felt particularly far-fetched. The Houston Astros, Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals cancelled their workouts due to delays in test results and the Oakland Athletics have yet to incorporate position players because of a similar issue.

With that as a backdrop, Mookie Betts was asked about his chances of suiting up for the Los Angeles Dodgers this year — or ever, given his pending free agency.

“I still have my doubts, just based off what’s going on,” Betts said. “I’m definitely preparing the same way; I’m fully expecting to play. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t doubts that kinda go on when the facts aren’t in front of you.”

Betts joined the Dodgers alongside David Price in a five-player trade in February and had four weeks with his new team before the coronavirus pandemic postponed the upcoming season. Three months later, after a contentious labor dispute and amid spiking coronavirus cases throughout the country, MLB and the MLB Players’ Association agreed on the framework of a season. But the first four days of what the league has called “Summer Camp” have already produced logistical issues with regards to COVID-19 testing, a problem exacerbated by the holiday weekend.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who will guide his players through an intersquad scrimmage late Monday afternoon, said his team has received all of its results from in-take testing and that the testing “has been expedited, has been fluid” from his perspective.

Betts, however, is not as optimistic.

“I can’t say I’m that confident because I haven’t been shown yet,” he said. “It’s kind of tough to be confident in something that hasn’t proved to be full proof. There’s not a whole lot really I can do; it’s out of my control. But it’s in someone’s control, and whoever’s control it’s in has to find a way to make it work or this whole operation may not be able to work.”

If the season is played, Betts will play alongside reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger and will round out one of the deepest lineups in baseball history. But the Dodgers’ pitching staff got a little more uncertain in recent days, with Jimmy Nelson deciding to undergo back surgery and Price announcing that he would opt out, joining a list that has grown to include eight players.

Betts said he is “fully supportive” of Price’s decision.

“He has to take care of himself. And if that’s what he feels is best for him and his family, then I’m fully on board with it. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, he’s a competitor, plays the game the right way, great in the clubhouse. He’s doing this for himself, and sometimes you have to do things for yourself.”

Betts, 27, is widely regarded as baseball’s best position player outside of Mike Trout and was seemingly in line to surpass Trout’s record $426.5 million contract this offseason. But baseball’s financial landscape has changed drastically because of the pandemic, creating uncertainty as to what Betts’ market might eventually look like.

Players who choose not to play and are not considered high-risk individuals do not get compensation or service time for the 2020 season. Betts admitted that those circumstances played a factor in his decision to play, given that his free agency would have been delayed by a year if he had joined Price in opting out. Betts reportedly turned down a $300 million extension from the Red Sox last offseason, but said he does not regret it.

“Once I make a decision, I make a decision,” Betts added. “I’m not going back to question myself. I don’t worry about that. The market will be what the market is. We’ll just kind of cross that bridge when we get there. But for right now, it’s just the [health and safety] things that I’m worried about. That whole thing [free agency] is on the backburner.”

The Dodgers will open their season against the San Francisco Giants July 23 on ESPN and will play their first two road series against the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks, likely playing indoors in two states that have experienced a significant spike in coronavirus cases. The Dodgers will host the Astros Sept. 12 to 13, but fans probably won’t be allowed at Dodger Stadium by then and many wonder if MLB can even get that far with its schedule.

Betts, a four-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, is among a growing list of players growing increasingly weary.

“We got camps being shut down and people going three and four days without tests,” Betts said. “You just don’t know what’s going on. And I know it’s hard. I’m not blaming or saying this, that and the other. It’s hard. But somebody’s gotta do it. And we have to just figure out the right way to do it.”

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