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Major League Baseball plans to provide teams with “greater flexibility in dealing with non-playing personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
Through the suspension of Uniform Employee Contracts, commissioner Rob Manfred will open the door for individual franchises to furlough employees or reduce their pay. The move will go into effect May 1.
The 2020 MLB season remains on hold because of the pandemic, with no firm date for when Opening Day might occur.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that MLB and the MLB Players Association have discussed a plan to stage all games without fans in Phoenix and the surrounding area. Players, coaches and other team personnel would be sequestered at designated hotels when not at the stadium.
According to Rosenthal, the strategy is the most realistic way to begin the year at the moment:
Still, the logistical issues are obvious and could be too difficult to overcome.
The longer the pandemic prevents the resumption of on-field action, the more teams will be incentivized to execute cost-cutting measures.
Passan reported MLB will decrease the pay of its senior employees by an average of 35 percent.
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
Manfred said in the memo that MLB would continue making scheduled financial distributions to all 30 teams in April and May — money that “will assist the Clubs in paying the salary advances that are being made to players,” which will total $170 million over the next two months.
Any teams that cut employee salaries or initiate furloughs are likely to receive plenty of criticism from fans. The Philadelphia 76ers quickly walked back their decision to trim their organizational salaries by up to 20 percent.
Players may not be exempt from measures taken to account for the lack of revenue because of the pandemic.
Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported for The Athletic that owners might ask players to accept lower prorated salaries in the event games occur without fans.
The two sides have struck a tentative agreement that would give players a collective advance payment of $170 million to cover April and May. In the event the season starts, they would then be paid a portion of their contracts equal to the number of games played.
Rosenthal and Drellich reported there was a difference of opinion as to whether the agreement covered a scenario in which teams closed stadiums off to fans.