Sean Doolittle: Talking MLB Salaries During Pandemic Was ‘Tone-Deaf,’ ‘Gross’

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle throws during the seventh inning of Game 5 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle addressed the negotiations that took place between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Doolittle told reporters the shifting focus from safety and mental health to salary structure “felt tone-deaf” and “felt gross.”

Asked about owners suggesting fans could be back in ballparks by the end of the season, Doolittle spoke about how much worse off the United States is than other developed countries:

Jesse Dougherty @dougherty_jesse

Here it is. The question was about some owners recently suggesting that there could be fans in parks later this season. Sean Doolittle’s answer touched on a lot more:

New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits that the team has spoken with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about being allowed to fill Yankee Stadium in the “20-30 percent range” with fans at some point this season. 

The owners and players spent weeks engaging in a war of words about what shape a potential 2020 season would take.

The two sides originally agreed to a deal on March 26 that included a $170 million advance in salaries for the players spread over two months and full prorated salary based on the length of the season, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal

Once the two sides started negotiating for a season, players proposed seasons of 114 games and 89 games with full prorated salaries. Owners rejected those offers, countering with shorter seasons of 82 games, 76 games and 72 games with a percentage of prorated salaries in each offer. 

MLB imposed a 60-game schedule starting on July 23 or 24 that the union agreed to on June 23. Players reported to summer camp in their team’s home ballpark on Friday, but the coronavirus has had a significant impact on the proceedings. 

The league and union jointly announced a total of 38 positive COVID-19 cases out of 3,185 tests administered. Eight players and coaches have so far opted out of playing this season. 

Doolittle told reporters he’s “prepared to play” right now but will opt out “at any point” if he doesn’t feel safe.