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Scherzer blasts MLB resumption proposal

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, one of Major League Baseball’s best and most prominent players and a member of a MLB Players Association executive subcommittee, has publicly blasted a league proposal for further salary reductions as part of a resumed 2020 season.

MLB earlier this week formally present the union with a sliding-scale salary proposal that would see pay rookies and lower-salaried players a greater percentage of their original contracts than what higher-paid stars would receive.

But that plan, based on a proposed 82-game regular season, also would represent further pay reductions beyond the prorated salaries already agreed to by the league and players as part of playing an abbreviated season. That prior deal, however, was premised on attending fans. And given MLB is now planning on most, if not, of this year being played in empty stadiums, owners are seeking additional and significant player compensation adjustments.

In the league proposal, players would typically end up receiving between 25 and 40 per cent of their original full-year pay between the sliding-scale model and prorating against a shortened 2020 season.

Scherzer, part of the MLBPA’s eight-member executive subcommittee and a three-time Cy Young Award winner, said there is “no justification” behind MLB’s proposal.

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no need to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” Scherzer said in a tweet. “We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of the prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a second pay cut based upon the current information the union has received.”

Scherzer also called for management to be more transparent in detailing any sort of economic justification behind asking players for further salary cuts.

“I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint. MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information,” he tweeted.

The union previously branded the league’s sliding-scale pay model “extremely disappointing.” The league, grappling with sizable fiscal losses, said in a statement it was “completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport.” 

In any event, time is becoming extremely short to salvage a 2020 baseball season in North America. Both sides ideally would like to resume play somewhere around the July 4 holiday in the US. But doing that would require several weeks of a revived Spring Training during June, and before that a deal to be in place by early June covering both economic and health components of a revived season.

As a result, roughly the next week will be critical toward the immediate future of the sport.