Photo Courtesy of Andy Singer
There’s a lot to unpack regarding the events of the last week. MLB’s owners very publicly submitted a new “offer” to the players to restart play, and the results have been predictable thus far. Beyond the ongoing labor dispute, I have all kinds of thoughts that are jumbled up such that they don’t really make sense for their own article. So, I’ve included a few quick hits here in the space normally reserved for the Weekly Mailbag – as always, I’ll write a mailbag as appropriate while we’re shutdown, so please send your questions to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. Let’s get at it:
As I’m sure you guessed, I was very intentional with my use of quotation marks to describe ownership’s “offer” to the players. For once, I completely agree with the Players Association’s decision to essentially ignore the offer and instead submit one of their own. On the surface, I understand the public marketing appeal of what the owners “offered.” If salaries had to be cut, it seemingly makes sense to cut more off the top of players making the most in order to give players making the least amount of money a higher percentage of their cut. The devil though, is in the details. Players with the top salaries in the game would receive just 30% of their rightful salaries. Sure, players making the league minimum would receive 90% of their agreed upon prorated salaries, but the cuts extend drastically from their. Keep in mind, the majority of players in the league make greater than $2 million per 162 game season. At the $5 million annual salary mark, a player would stand to make just 56% of their agreed upon prorated salary. I know that we’re talking about salaries of which most of could never dream, but there are very real ethical concerns regarding ownership’s proposal. The owners had previously floated a 50/50 revenue split, knowing it would be a non-starter because the Players Association has balked at anything resembling an effective salary cap. Economically, this latest proposal would be even more damaging than strictly splitting revenue. I know that some of MLB’s teams are hurting, but I really find it hard to believe that many of the financial ills that the league is claiming wouldn’t be alleviated significantly once games begin and TV revenues return.
All of this is against the following backdrop: MLB and the Players already made an agreement regarding salaries in March! If MLB was shortsighted with regards to the economic impact no games would have on certain teams, that’s on their negotiating team. All parties saw what was coming, and to their credit, immediately made an agreement to only pay players prorated salaries based on the number of games played. To me, the case closed there. MLB has been awash with cash for years, so most teams should have been running significant surpluses. Profits are great, but the windfall brought by regional TV contracts signed in the last 5-10 years should allow most teams to weather a storm even as significant as Covid.
Lastly, it is essential to realize that the risk of returning to play falls entirely on the players and any essential staff that has to go to MLB ballparks every day once the season restarts. All of these people are taking a risk to their own and their family’s well being by returning to play and risking infection. In that context, asking players to take further pay cuts to take such dire risks is unconscionable. I am sympathetic to economic concerns, but not over and above the risk the players will shoulder by returning to play games for our enjoyment.
At the end of the day, I miss baseball terribly. I worry that the owners’ proposal will anger the players enough that they will return with a proposal that is an equal and opposite reaction…which would be bad. I haven’t been pessimistic regarding baseball’s return throughout the shutdown, but I have real trepidation over the events of the last few days. I hope that cooler, more pragmatic heads prevail.
For the Yankees, it really stinks to watch their window of opportunity close with each passing day. The Yankees built a juggernaut coming into the 2020 season, and this season may very well be their best shot to begin a new dynasty. DJ LeMahieu, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and Brett Gardner could very well depart following this season, and the Yankees have a lot of question marks behind them. The Yankees have a lot of talented prospects on the way, but realistically, prospects are risky for teams like the Yankees who have a closing window of contention. Don’t get me wrong, the Yankees are set-up well for future seasons, but this season could be special given the group that has been assembled. I would hate to see it go to waste.
We’ve talked a lot during the SSTN Top 15 Yankee Prospects series about the best players in the Yankee farm system. There’s so much to be excited about when looking at all of the upside talent, that somehow, I think one of the Yankees’ best prospects has somehow fallen beneath the radar: Deivi Garcia. At this time last season, most of us would have ranked Garcia as the top prospect in the system without much argument. Truthfully, he hasn’t done anything to diminish his prospect stock! The system has just performed that well. As many of you know, I love Garcia as a prospect, and was among the minority that beat the drum last season to see Garcia get at least a cup of coffee in the Majors. Garcia has four average-to-plus pitches. He just happens to be diminutive in stature. That fact doesn’t concern me as much as it does other observers. Garcia’s delivery is sound, and he really doesn’t have an injury history that we know of to this point. The same question marks existed when Pedro Martinez, and more recently Jose Berrios, was coming up. Garcia has shown that it may take some period of time for him to adjust to upper level hitters, but I think he’ll be just fine. Keep him on your radars.
That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all next week with another Mailbag (or…Not The Weekly Mailbag).