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Key takeaways from MLB’s initial economic proposal to re-start 2020 season

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Team owners in Major League Baseball have reportedly made their long-anticipated initial proposal to the MLB Players Association about what the players could make during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Working from what details have come out from sources, we look at the key takeaways from what we’re hearing about the proposal so far.

What would make a sliding scale be more appealing to players than a revenue split?

For one, it protects them against a shutdown due to a second wave of COVID-19, perhaps during the playoffs, when television revenues are at its peak. Plus, the lower-paid players wouldn’t feel the further hit on their salary as much, thanks to the sliding scale. Already, one lesser paid player thought he’d only lose about $100,000-$150,000 compared to the uncertainty of sharing revenues.

Why would MLB’s highest-paid players be willing to agree to a deal that costs them more than others?

There’s a good chance they won’t but if they did it would be because a player who was going to make $20 million would still make about $6.5 million this season while also protecting the lower-paid players. But this offer has a real chance to divide players unless a better solution is presented. The top earners are in a sort of Catch-22. Many probably have enough money to survive without playing this season but $6.5 million is still $6.5 million.

How much more likely does this proposal make the players to agree to a deal?

One player said it’s already ‘much better’ than any revenue-sharing split but that doesn’t make it likely they’ll accept. Players already believe they agreed to a prorated salary structure so selling them on taking even less won’t be easy. Just easier than a revenue-sharing proposal. The good news is the owners have shown some willingness to negotiate but, in fact, this is their first real proposal. Revenue sharing was a trial balloon which popped upon leaking to the media.

Where do talks go next from here?

The union is likely to respond, perhaps with their own plan, which might include full prorated salaries but with deferments. Behind the scenes, many players and agents find this idea intriguing, knowing revenues will return in coming years, and full value of current contracts can be paid. Another option is to offer a straight cut across the board — say 10 percent — instead of a sliding scale. The hit wouldn’t be horrendous for any one player but would the owners accept? It won’t save them as much as their current proposal.

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Dave Dombrowski joins group trying to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville

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Former Boston Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski has joined Music City Baseball LLC, a Nashville-based group intent on bringing Major League Baseball back to the city.

The group lists Dombrowski as a baseball adviser on its website.

“It’s clear to me that Nashville is ready for Major League Baseball, and Music City Baseball is making smart and exciting decisions as it works to bringing a team here,” Dombrowski said in a statement. “From its relationship with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to its community support, Music City Baseball has built a strong foundation.”

Dombrowski, 63, won a ring as the architect of Boston’s 2018 World Series championship team but was fired just a year later amid a disappointing 2019 campaign. After beginning his career with the Chicago White Sox in 1978, Dombrowksi spent time with the Expos, Marlins and Tigers. He won another World Series ring as a member of the Marlins’ front office in 1997.

Music City Baseball was formed in 2019 with the goal of bringing an expansion franchise to Nashville in the next few years. Their advisory board includes other MLB luminaries like Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa,

“Nashville is a city with deep baseball roots, and as we emerge from the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, I believe baseball, and more specifically Music City Baseball, can play an important role in bringing the city back together,” Dombrowski said. “My wife Karie and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Nashville community.”

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Aaron Nola clears virus protocol, reports to Phillies camp

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PHILADELPHIA — Phillies ace Aaron Nola reported to camp on Monday after waiting a few extra days because he was in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

“All my tests came back negative,” Nola said. “If you don’t have symptoms and you come in contact with somebody who ends up testing positive, you’re out for probably at least seven days. That could possibly be two starts. It’s obviously going to be a hard part of it. And sometimes it’s out of our control. We just have to try to do our part every day.”

The Phillies have had seven players and five staff members test positive for the virus. None has been identified.

Infielder Scott Kingery and pitchers Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez and Tommy Hunter were placed on the 10-day injured list with no specified injuries last week. Outfielder Adam Haseley and catcher Christian Bethancourt still haven’t reported to camp.

Nola threw a bullpen upon arriving and would likely start Philadelphia’s season opener later this month if he’s ready. Nola finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2018 when he was 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA. He was 12-7 with a 3.87 ERA last year.

“I was impressed by his bullpen [Monday] considering he hadn’t done a lot for a week,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s too early to tell where he’ll fit in. He would’ve been our Opening Day starter. I have to see where he’s at. I’m not saying he won’t be. I’m not ready to say.”

Nola said he is committed to playing this season amid the pandemic.

“Nothing has crossed my mind about opting out,” Nola said. “I want to play as bad as everyone else does. The guys who opted out, it’s understandable.”

The Phillies are scheduled to open the 60-game season at home against Miami on July 24.

Zack Wheeler, the No. 2 starter behind Nola, is in camp but uncertain about staying because his wife is due to deliver the couple’s first child later this month.

“It’s a very difficult decision. It’s something that is still playing in my head. I have to be very careful here at the field, outside of the field, wherever I go,” Wheeler said. “The baby’s and Dominique’s health are most important to me. So whatever I can do to make sure they are safe, that is the No. 1 goal for me. Baseball comes after that.”

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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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