After four weeks of talks, Major League Baseball and the players union are inching closer to a deal to start the season, though time is running out. In order to meet an early July start and accommodate a second spring training, the two sides need to strike an agreement in the next week.
League owners have yet to respond to a players’ proposal for a 114-game regular season with deferred salaries in the event of a canceled postseason, but they are expected to reject the measure and have floated a 50-60 game season in response. Owners have claimed paying players their prorated salaries in a shortened season would result in a $4 billion loss, a number disputed by FiveThirtyEight, which says operating costs were likely counted in full rather than half.
MLBPA says pay cuts proposed by the owners would total $800 million, with the bulk of them carried by high-paid stars. Though the average MLB salary is $4 million, nearly two-thirds of players earn less than $1 million a year. MLB revenues last year were a record $10.7 billion.
A deal now would still enable baseball to return to action before any other major North American team sport, and in time for Independence Day. A canceled season could set the industry back in a manner worse than the strike that canceled the 1994 World Series.