MLB cuts senior staff pay by average of 35 per cent

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball is cutting salaries of its senior staff by an average of 35 per cent for 2020, but is guaranteeing paychecks for all its central office employees through May as the league wrestles with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a staff memo obtained by the Associated Press, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the league will also make its planned central fund distributions to individual clubs through May.

“As part of our effort to protect the organization, my senior staff and I have decided to reduce our compensation by an average of 35 per cent for 2020 to help the organization weather this terrible storm,” Manfred said in the memo. 

“As a result of these developments, I am pleased to be in a position to ensure that all employees that received regular pay checks in April will continue to be paid through May 31. I am deeply grateful to the owners for supporting my decision to continue to support all of our employees in an environment where the owners and the clubs are facing their own very difficult financial issues,” he said. 

Manfred’s memo regarding the league’s internal personnel issues comes nearly three weeks after MLB struck a deal with the MLB Players Association on player compensation during the pandemic. Owners will advance players $170m in salary payments in two stages, with that money not needing to be returned if the entire 2020 season is canceled. The advance money is being divided among the players by the union.

It is still unknown when and how MLB will be able to return action amid the public health crisis. The league has explored playing games in a single-site model in the Phoenix, Arizona, area, but nothing is certain, and the commissioner has described these rescheduling notions as simply ideas and nothing resembling an actual plan. And key to any plan, Manfred says, is not consuming any resources needed for public health. 

“The only decision we have made, the only real plan that we have, is that baseball is not going to return until the public health situation is improved to the point that we’re comfortable that we can play games in a manner that is safe for our players, our employees, our fans and in a way that will not impact the public health situation adversely,” Manfred said in a televised interview on Fox Business. 

“Right now, it’s largely a waiting game. During that period, as you might expect any business would, we have engaged in contingency planning. We thought about how we might able to return in various scenarios, but again, the key is the improvement in the public health situation,” he said.

Several other US sports properties have engaged in similar pay cuts, including the National Basketball Association, Nascar, ESPN, and Major League Soccer, among others.

Manfred, meanwhile, will be part of a new federal government committee advising US President Donald Trump on measures to re-open the American economy.