St. Louis Cardinals: Proposal to MLBPA from owners for 2020 revealed

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred visits "Mornings With Maria" hosted by Maria Bartiromo at Fox Business Network Studios on September 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred visits "Mornings With Maria" hosted by Maria Bartiromo at Fox Business Network Studios on September 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images) /

We knew this day for St. Louis Cardinals fans was coming, but the MLB has leaked their plan for 2020 that they are about to present to the MLBPA.

Baseball may just be baseball to us, but at the end of the day, it’s a business that makes money based on the performance of the workers. Because of this, the MLB has the Players Association to lobby for them. It may not have union in the name, but it’s a union. The players on the St. Louis Cardinals are card-carrying members, just like the rest.

Because of the nature of the relationship between the MLB owners and the players underneath them, things (at times) can get a little dirty between the two. Between 1994 and 1995, 948 games were canceled because the players just flat out refused to play.

When things get to that level, it is an ugly look for both sides. The last thing the fans want is no baseball at all, and when the two sides can’t agree on who gets what part of each fan’s dollar, nobody has fun.

As we look forward to what the MLB season will look like in 2020, there are many things to consider with a plan that makes everybody happy and ends with baseball being played. From safety to contingency plans, to schedule, it all comes back to the money.

As we expected, the plan on the owner’s side was expected to be presented to the MLBPA this week, a delightfully early timeline. However, in the past 24 hours, storm clouds have began to form around the coming negotiations.

Tony Clark, the leader of the MLBPA, came out and said that “there’s going to be a war if owners seek further pay from players.” That was on Sunday. On Monday, the owners agreed on the plan and then leaked it, all as leverage over the players.

What did that plan entail?

Well, it’s a lot like what we expected based off what was floated before. Spring training would start up early to mid-June, the season would begin around July 4. The schedule would be 82 games, with each of the geographical divisions playing amongst themselves. That would mean the St. Louis Cardinals would play the NL Central and the AL Central (no word on whether the Braves for Pirates swap with the East would still happen).

The All-Star Game would likely be canceled (sorry you won’t be able to host, Dodgers) and there would be an expanded playoff. However, the sour cherry on top is a proposed financial plan that would have players receive the “percentage of their 2020 salaries based on a 50-50 split of revenues MLB receives during the regular-season and postseason.”


Back when the season was first delayed, the MLBPA and owners agreed on a plan that would forward $170M of the players’ salaries then so that they would be able to get some pay while games were not going on. At the time, the plan said that if there was no 2020 season, that’d be it for the players in 2020.

However, if games were played, players would get a prorated salary based on how many games were played. That wasn’t all though, as the deal did have a “provision in which the players agreed to engage in good faith discussions about the economic feasibility of playing games without fans.” That provision had nothing to do with how the players would get paid. It was just there to give the players a voice in whether or not fans would be in the seats.

Now the owners want to go back on their already agreed-upon deal and ask players to take a further pay cut. Did they have no forethought? The owners already got the drastically shortened draft they wanted, why should the players take another pay cut because the owners put their eggs in the wrong basket.

The owners are crying poor and without good reason. Further along in this article from Craig Calcaterra, he writes that it is believed that the “MLB will still make money on fan-free games due to the far greater reliance the league has on television and sponsorship revenues than it has historically had.” That is just for the regular season too. In an expanded playoff that the owners are also lobbying for, they would scoop even more money into their pockets.

Calcaterra also brings up another great point in favor of the players. An owner’s timeline is much further than a player’s. It also comes with way less risk. In the case of Bill DeWitt Jr., he bought the Cardinals (with others in his ownership group) in 1995 for $150M. As of April 2020, the Cardinals were worth $2.2 BILLION.

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I hate the game of people trying to spend other people’s money and those two numbers cut out all the charitable work and infrastructure and money the DeWitt family has poured into downtown St. Louis. We have no clue what the balance sheet for the St. Louis Cardinals looks like.

But at the end of the day, owning the Cardinals has been a profitable venture for the life of his investment. Just because he is enduring one year of maybe losing money, should the players have to suffer?

Speaking of the players, they have a lot shorter timeline in all of this. One wrong pitch could end any player’s career. The volatility is much higher and the players losing out on money in 2020 hurts way more than an owner losing out on money.

Going back to leverage, what will now happen is that if the MLBPA halts progress towards a potential deal, stuck on the money factor, the players will be looked at as the bad guys. From a fan’s point of view, there is now a perfectly viable plan on the table for 2020. Even a 50-50 split of revenues sounds fair, but the players want their full prorated salary, and it could get ugly if the owners don’t give it to them.

If I’m being honest, when I started this article, I was more on the side of the owners. They have a viable plan, but the leverage they have created seems to be working. The players are going to get screwed on this deal.

It gets even more frustrating when the owners agreed to a financial contingency in the earlier deal that they are now trying to go back on.

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I hope this doesn’t get ugly, but if it does, I get it. The owners are being greedy and the fans and players are going to be the ones to suffer. More news to come soon as the conference between the players and the owners is going to be during the day on Tuesday.