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Breaking down MLB owners’ salary proposal, in Mike Trout terms

Trout is the highest paid player in the game, and under the latest proposal is asked to take the biggest proportional cut

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball owners and players are in the negotiating phase of figuring out if and when a 2020 season might happen. The owners’ proposal sent Tuesday was not well received by the players.

Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers at ESPN said the proposal “drew the ire of the players’ union.” An agent told Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic, “I have never seen a collective response like I’m seeing today from the players. They are livid.” The Washington Post characterized the union as “extremely disappointed” in the proposal.

On March 26, the players and owners agreed to terms for various scenarios, most notably that players would get service time if the 2020 season was canceled and the owners would get cost certainty, paying the players roughly four percent of their salaries. In that pact, players agreed to pro-rated salaries in the event of a shortened season. So in the instance of an 82-game season, players would get just over half (50.6%, 82/162) of their salary.

Now the owners are asking the players to take even deeper pay cuts, in addition to the cuts they already agreed to in March, because of the revenue lost from games played with no fans.

The cuts proposed by owners are gradual. As noted by both Ronald Blum at Associated Press and by Passan and Rogers at ESPN, players making the minimum salary ($563,500) would get 90% of their pro-rated salary. The percentage decreases for each salary group, down to 20% of any amount above $20 million

Let’s take Mike Trout as an example. He makes $36 million this year, tied with Gerrit Cole of the Yankees for highest salary in baseball. Pro-rating that over 82 games is $18.2 million. In the owners’ proposal, he’d get just under $5.6 million.

Mike Trout’s 2020 salary & the owners’ proposal

Salary tiers Salary % Trout full salary 82-game pro-rated Owners proposal
Salary tiers Salary % Trout full salary 82-game pro-rated Owners proposal
$0-$563,500 90.0% $563,500 $285,228 $256,706
$563,501-$1,000,000 72.5% $436,500 $220,944 $160,185
$1,000,001-$5,000,000 50.0% $4,000,000 $2,024,691 $1,012,346
$5,000,001-$10,000,000 40.0% $5,000,000 $2,530,864 $1,012,346
$10,000,001-$20,000,000 30.0% $10,000,000 $5,061,728 $1,518,519
$20,000,001 & up 20.0% $16,000,000 $8,098,765 $1,619,753
Totals $36,000,000 $18,222,222 $5,579,853

That’s just 30.6% of Trout’s pro-rated salary. It’s also for only the regular season. Players, under this proposal, would get more money if there is a postseason, and not just for the players who make the playoffs. From AP:

There would be an additional $200 million in postseason bonus money — $25 million for the Division Series, $50 million for the League Championship Series and $125 million for the World Series — that would be given in proportion to the difference in money lost between this proposal and the March agreement.

Passan mentions Trout specifically as an example of the postseason bonus.

Even adding that to Trout’s salary, he’d still only be getting roughly 44.5% of what would be expected on an 82-game pro-rated basis. That’s a good illustration of how wide the gap is at the moment between the players and owners.