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Trouble brewing over cuts in pay

The Associated Press

NEW YORK– Major League Baseball players are upset over the prospect teams may seek additional pay cuts if games are played in empty ballparks due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Their anger was stoked last week when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was told by Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon that the union would have to agree to lower salaries if games are played without fans.

A March 26 deal between the sides stated “the Office of the Commissioner and Players Association will discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites.” The union points to another passage covering salaries in which players agree to give up 1/162nd of base pay for each regular season game lost.

“Players recently reached an agreement with Major League Baseball that outlines economic terms for resumption of play, which included significant salary adjustments and a number of other compromises. That negotiation is over,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement Monday.

“We’re now focused on discussing ways to get back on the field under conditions that prioritize the health and well-being of players and their families, coaches, umpires, team staff and fans,” he said.

The agreement says that without consent by the commissioner’s office, the season won’t start until there are no official restrictions that would limit teams from playing in front of fans in the 30 clubs’ home ballparks. It also states “the commissioner will consider the use of appropriate substitute neutral sites where economically feasible.”

There is little chance for a full 162-game schedule, and players stand to forfeit from $222,222 for each game missed (Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole) to $3,478 for those at the $563,500 minimum. St. Louis reliever Andrew Miller, a member of the union’s eight-man executive committee, would lose $70,988 per game of his $11.5 million salary.

“My understanding is that we already have an agreement in place regarding salary for the 2020 season when it resumes,” Miller wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Among the plans baseball is considering is the Arizona option, in which all 30 teams would be based in the Phoenix area and use 10 spring training ballparks, the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field and perhaps college venues. The plan has been discussed only generally, and MLB has said no proposal can move forward unless there is a go-ahead from government and medical officials.

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