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MLB's Latest Pitch: Lower Pay For Million-Dollar Players

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If baseball returns to parks this year, the highest paid players could lose most of their salaries, according to a proposal by Major League Baseball (MLB).

Under the owners’ plan, star players could lose 80 percent of their salaries, while lower paid players could keep up to 90 percent of their check, CNBC reported.

In its simplest terms, the proposed temporary tiered salary system says the more a player was set to earn for the 2020 season, the less he will keep.

The plan presented to the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) on Tuesday (May 26) says players who earn between $563,501 to $1 million get to keep more than 70 percent of their pay. Players making $1 million to $5 million keep 50 percent, those in the $5 million to $10 million tier receive 40 percent while players making more than $20 million keep just 20 percent of their salaries.

MLB said the plan reflects the projected losses the league expects this year after it was forced to delay the start of its season due to COVID-19, the news outlet reported.

“We made a proposal to the union that is completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport,” MLB said in a statement. “We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA.”

The Associated Press reported the union said the salary adjustment plan is “extremely disappointing” and each side remains at odds over health and safety protocols.

Thomas Ricketts, chairman and co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, told CNBC’s “The Exchange” on Tuesday (May 26) that the MLB expects to lose $4 billion if games are played without fans.

“That’s particularly hard on teams like the Cubs,” he said, adding the “game day activities” account for 70 percent of MLB’s revenue.

Earlier this month, PYMNTS reported if baseball is played in empty parks this season starting in July, MLB owners expect to play about half the number of games, 82, for the 2020 season.

Some experts have said the uncertainty of the coronavirus raises questions about whether baseball, hockey, basketball and football will happen at all this year.

Last month, Gil Fried, professor and chair at the University of New Haven’s sport management program, said the escapism and joy that sports bring is needed now more than ever.

But it will be an evolutionary process marked by the new normal of social distancing and caution, he added.

“It’s night and day from what we’re used to,” Fried told PYMNTS, observing that with the exceptions of, say NACAR and horse-racing, in-person or televised sports have gone mostly dark.

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