Baltimore Orioles: Reactions to the Latest MLB Tiered Payment Plan

Just when it looks like the Baltimore Orioles and the rest of the MLB are ready to agree on a 2020 deal, something ridiculous happens and groups take two steps back.

The latest issue is over pay scales, and it could certainly affect the young Baltimore Orioles who make pennies on the dollar compared to millionaire veterans and billionaire owners.

The back-and-forth proposals have resulted in the MLB offering a tiered cut to players, with the highest-paid players taking the biggest hit.

According to Ken Rosenthal with The Athletic, a player agent said:

“I have never seen a collective response like I’m seeing today from the players,” one agent said. “They are livid.”

Here’s an example of how players would be paid according to the latest plan, also from Rosenthal:

“Under the proposal, the highest-paid players would take the greatest reduction (a $35 million player would earn a maximum of $7.84 million) and the lowest-paid players the smallest hit (a minimum-salaried player at $563,500 would receive $262,000), sources said.”

The salaries are based on the players getting a bit more than half of what they normally would in a 162-game season, then cutting out a percentage from that. But, players would also get some profit-sharing revenue at the end of the season.

The problem is that no one will be buying tickets. And, those big-name guys put butts in the seats. If no one is sitting in those seats, those big-name guys aren’t as valuable to the team, thus the drastic reduction in pay. With the tiered system, Gerrit Cole and Mike Trout would make about 20% of their annual salary in 2020. Trout is scheduled to make $37.6 million in 2020; Cole would make $36 million.

This is how player salaries would be cut under the newest plan from the MLB:

  • $1 million and under: Keep 70%
  • $1 to $5 million: Keep 50%
  • $5 to $10 million: Keep 40%
  • $10 to $20 million: Keep 30%
  • $20+: Keep 20%

These percentages are AFTER they already get a 50% reduction for playing in an 82-game season.

So, how does this relate to Chris Davis, who is the only Oriole making over $20 million in 2020? If the proposal is accepted. His $21.1 million would be whittled down no more than $3.1 million. But, here’s where things get sticky for the players. Alex Cobb is scheduled to make $9.5 million in 2020. If he is able to keep 40%, his 2020 salary will only be a little less than Davis’s at $1.9 million.

Honestly, with Davis’s recent performance, this still seems high. And, Cobb’s 5.36 ERA with the O’s seems more like a $3.8 million arm than one closer to $10 mil.

The third-highest paid Oriole is Mychal Givens at $3.2 million. He would get $1.6 million under the proposed plan. The majority of the team is near the league minimum of $563,501 – they would keep 70% of that.

The worst part of all of this is the situation in the minor leagues. Those games are not televised, so they offer no value to their Major League teams in 2020. Some minor league players make as little as $400 per week, and teams like the Oakland Athletics are planning to stop paying them at the end of May.  Keep in mind that the Orioles cut 37 minor league players just a few days ago. Considering what MLB team owners are worth, this seems petty and cruel.

Next: Former O's Adam Jones Preparing to Play in Japan

It is difficult for fans to grasp the idea of an 80% pay cut, when one makes over $20 million playing a game. It is tough to empathize with billionaires who are asking them to do this. I don’t have the answer; but at this point, it’s tough to see an MLB season being played in 2020. It’s easier to see a vicious fight between very wealthy people played out in a post-COVID world where the little guy is choosing between paying rent or paying for prescription drugs.

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