MLBPA ‘disappointed’ with Major League Baseball’s economic proposal for 2020 season

PHOENIX — The Major League Baseball Players Association called MLB’s economic proposal to play baseball this season “extremely disappointing,’’ and echoed by the early feedback from the powerful players in their union.

“I saw the proposal,’’ union representative Andrew Miller of the St. Louis Cardinals told USA TODAY Sports. “We want to play. It’s what we love to do. We also have principles and a responsibility to protect the rights of players. If this was truly about getting the game to the fans in 2020, we would have no issues finding that common ground.

“We will continue to work towards that, but I’m disappointed where they have started the discussion.’’

The plan, three people with knowledge of the proposal told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday afternoon, will pay a percentage of their prorated salaries, with the players being paid the most taking the biggest salary cuts. The three persons spoke only on the condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak publicly since negotiations are on-going.

The veterans earning the highest salaries would be taking the biggest cuts — as much as 50% from their prorated salaries — while the younger players earning the least amount of money would receive most of their guaranteed prorated salaries. The proposal also includes a scale that would pay players a percentage of their salary at different intervals of the season, through the postseason. It also includes a larger share of postseason money to the players.

The players already agreed to be paid on a prorated basis in their March 26 agreement, but on the condition there would be fans in attendance and now travel restrictions, the owners say. The players now are being asked to accept pay cuts by as much as 75% from their original guarantees for the game’s richest players.

The proposal, one official with direct knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports, laid out the financial details of the pay cuts players would take based off their prorated salaries, confirming an ESPN report.

Players scheduled to earn $285,000 on their prorated salary would now earn $262,000.

Players earning $1.01 million would earn $736,000.

Players earning $2.53 million would earn $1.64 million.

Players earning $5.06 million would earn $2.95 million.

Players earning $10.1 million would earn $5.1 million.

Players earning $15.2 million would earn $6.95 million.

Players earning $17.7 million would earn $7.84 million.

So a player such as ace Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees, who originally was scheduled to earn $36 million this season, would now earn about $8 million in the half-season.

While the union bristled at the proposal, saying the pay cuts were “massive,’’ MLB did adhere to the union’s request of dropping their proposed 50-50 revenue sharing plan. The union was concerned that the revenue-sharing would lead to the introduction of a salary cap in future negotiations, while wary of further pay reductions, including the possibility of a percentage of their salaries placed in escrow.

There is a worry among several agents that the new proposal could create a division among the rank-and-file, but certainly there will be modifications, compromises and plenty of discussion with all players during these negotiations.

“Interesting strategy of making the best most marketable players,’’ Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Brett Anderson tweeted, “potentially look like the bad guys.’’

The owners insist that it’s necessary for the players to take a further salary reduction because they will lose money during the regular season without fans in attendance. Yet, the owners also would be guaranteed $777 million in postseason TV revenue, which would be inflated to about $1 billion with the postseason format expanded to 14 teams instead of 10. The owners have discussed sharing a portion of the money with the players.

“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.’’

There’s no hard deadline for the negotiations to be completed, but the two sides would likely need to reach an agreement by June 6 for the season to start on July 4. Players and coaching staffs need time to report for the resumption of spring training, which will last three weeks at a team’s home ballpark or their spring training site in Florida or Arizona.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale on Twitter @BNightengale.

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Mets’ Noah Syndergaard sued by landlord for allegedly not paying rent on NYC penthouse

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been sued by his New York landlord, who claims Syndergaard did not pay rent on the lower Manhattan penthouse he was planning to live in during the 2020 season, according to a federal lawsuit obtained by USA TODAY Sports. 

The complaint, filed Thursday in the Southern District of New York, alleges that Syndergaard and the landlord, 600 Summer LLC, agreed to a lease for the penthouse apartment from March 20, 2020, through Nov. 30, 2020. At a rate of $27,000 per month, according to the complaint, the pad is "a 2,700 square foot duplex, with three bedrooms, three large terraces, high-end architectural design, and designer finishes." 

A copy of the lease, signed by Syndergaard, was filed as evidence. The agreement was approved by the property's condominium board on Feb. 20. But according to the suit, Syndergaard, 27, "treated the binding Lease like an option" and did not move into the apartment or pay. 

Per the complaint, the landlord notified Syndergaard on April 17 that he had defaulted on the lease and owed at least $80,000, not including late fees and interest. He and his lawyers responded on April 30, informing the landlord Syndergaard "has no intention of taking possession of the subject premises and the landlord is hereby free to re-rent it as he sees fit."  

The penthouse went back on the market, but 600 Summer has not yet found a tenant, the complaint said. 

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has postponed the baseball season indefinitely. And Syndergaard wouldn't have been pitching in 2020 anyway; on March 24, the Mets announced the right-hander was undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery, which he did two days later. 

600 Summer is seeking at least $250,000 for breach of contract, plus more cash to account for "attorneys fees, costs, and other expenses of litigation." 

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Bob Watson, former MLB player and World Series-winning general manager, dies at 73

Bob Watson, who played Major League Baseball for 19 seasons before a career as a team and league executive, has died, the Houston Astros announced Thursday night. He was 73.

"This is a very sad day for the Astros and for all of baseball. Bob Watson enjoyed a unique and remarkable career in Major League Baseball that spanned six decades, reaching success at many different levels, including as a player, coach, general manager and MLB executive," the Astros said in a statement. "He was an All-Star on the field and a true pioneer off of it, admired and respected by everyone he played with or worked alongside.

"Bob will be missed, but not forgotten. We were proud to honor Bob's legacy with the dedication of the Bob Watson Education Center at the Astros Youth Academy in March. A fitting tribute to what he meant to the Astros organization and to the game of baseball. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Carol, his daughter Kelley, his son, Keith and to the rest of his family, friends and many admirers."

This is a very sad day for the Astros and for all of baseball. Bob Watson enjoyed a unique and remarkable career in Major League Baseball that spanned six decades, reaching success at many different levels, including as a player, coach, general manager and MLB executive.

Watson began his big-league career with the Astros in 1966 and went on to spend 14 seasons in Houston before playing for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves before retiring following the 1984 season. On May 4, 1975, Watson was credited with scoring the 1,000,000th run in major-league history during a game against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. Over 19 MLB seasons, Watson — a two-time All-Star selection — hit .295, collected 1,826 hits and scored 802 runs.

With his playing career over, Watson went into coaching. He was a hitting coach for the Oakland A's in 1988 when the team won the American League pennant. In 1993, Watson was named general manager of the Astros, becoming the first African-American to hold the title of GM in the major leagues. He also became the first African-American general manager to win a World Series when the New York Yankees won their first championship in 18 years under Watson's watch in 1996.

After retiring as GM of the Yankees, Watson served as an executive for MLB until 2010.

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Manny Ramirez, 47, wants to return to pro baseball in Taiwan’s CPBL

Major League Baseball may be on the road to a possible return. Manny Ramirez hopes it's the same for him, although he realizes that at his age, he won't be suiting up in the big leagues. 

The former Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox slugger told the Taiwan Times on Wednesday that his goal for 2020 is to return to Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League.

"I have been itching to get back in the batter’s box and be able to compete again," he told the Times. "I also miss being around teammates and team dinners post-game.

"I know if I was given the opportunity to come in an organization as a player-coach, it would do great things for the organization and the league." 

It's not the first time Ramirez is attempting a comeback overseas. In 2013, he hit .352/.422/.555 for the EDA Rhinos, one of the league's five teams (that has since taken a different name under new ownership), in 49 games. Ramirez clubbed eight homers and drove in 43 runs. 

Manny Ramirez last played in the majors in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Rays. (Photo: Reed Saxon, AP)

Ramirez, however, will turn 48 next month. He told the paper he will provide positive contributions in a player-coach role, not unlike the duties he performed in the Chicago Cubs organization in 2014. He dropped the player tag after one season but remained an instructor, before attempting a comeback in Japan in 2017. 

Ramirez said he considered playing in the independent Atlantic League stateside, but prefers the CPBL. 

"I am still confident in my ability to serve as a player-coach and provide positive contributions to any ball club that is willing to have me on their staff/roster," he told the Times. 

"I have been working out daily and keeping my mind at ease, with only one thing in mind – how to get back on the field."

Drafted by the Indians in the first round of the 1991 draft, Ramirez made 12 All-Star squads throughout his career and won two World Series with the Red Sox. He hit 555 home runs and left MLB with 555 home runs and a .996 OPS. 

Whether Ramirez can add to the legend of "Manny being Manny" remains to be seen. 

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Former Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals manager Jim Frey dies at 88

Jim Frey, who managed the Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs before becoming the latter's general manager, died Sunday at the age of 88. 

The lifelong baseball man also helped found the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League; the Patriots first announced his death Tuesday, adding he "passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by family." No specific cause of death was provided.

Frey managed the Kansas City Royals to their first World Series appearance during his first year on the job in 1980, replacing Whitey Herzog. The Royals dropped the Fall Classic to the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Frey managed the Cubs to their first National League East division title in 1984. That year, the Cubs were one game away from reaching the World Series, but lost three straight to the San Diego Padres in the NLCS. 

From December 1987 through the 1991 season, he served as the Cubs' general manager, winning another division title in 1989. 

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Former Chicago Cubs infielder Glenn Beckert dies at 79

Second baseman Glenn Beckert, a mainstay on the Chicago Cubs infield from 1965-73, has died at age 79.

The Cubs confirmed Beckert's death in a social media post on Sunday morning. 

Beckert won a Gold Glove award for his fielding excellence in 1968, when he also led the National League with 98 runs scored and finished ninth in the NL MVP balloting. He was also named to four consecutive NL All-Star teams, starting in 1969. 

The Cubs traded Beckert to the San Diego Padres after the 1973 season and he played the final two years of his career in San Diego. 

Over nine seasons in the majors, Beckert complied 1,473 hits, scored 685 runs and finished with a .283 average.

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Shin-Soo Choo giving $1,000 to every minor league player in Rangers’ farm system

Shin-Soo Choo is looking out for the younger players in the Texas Rangers minor league system during this pandemic.

The outfielder/designated hitter is giving each of the 190 minor league players in the Rangers' organization $1,000, Choo's agency, Scott Boras Corporation, confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. 

The story was first reported by Korean website Naver Sports.

Choo also donated to a Crush Covid initiative Boras started to raise funds for Direct Relief, an emergency aid organization.

The website cited a text exchange between Choo and minor league outfielder Eli White in March after camps were closed because of the coronavirus.

“Hey, Choo, this is Eli. Thanks for helping me out with the per diem checks. It is going to help my wife and I out a lot,” said a text from White. 

“Eli don’t worry about money. Just keep playing baseball. Let me know if you need something more,” replied Choo.

Choo, 37, is expected to earn $21 million in 2020. He is in the final year of a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Rangers.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred agreed to pay minor-leaguers $400 per week through May 31. The stipend is a significant paycut for most minor-league players. They will, however, continue receiving medical benefits, but are not eligible for unemployment because they remain under contract. 

Contributing: Bob Nightengale

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