Mazz: Players 'Union'? Baseball negotiations are all about the stars

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By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Last year, according to Baseball Prospectus, the average salary of a major league baseball player was $4.4 million, down slightly from the year before. In fact, since the average player salary peaked at $4.51 million in 2017, it has decreased – by a whisker – in each of the two years since.

So why are we telling you this?

To explain to you what is important to the union that represents major league players.

And the answer: the superstars.

Everyone else can pretty much go pound sand with a weighted donut.

Allow me to explain. On Tuesday, according to reports, major league owners presented players with a financial proposal that called for a “sliding scale” of pay reductions for players, meaning greater pay cuts for the highest-paid players and smaller ones for the lesser-paid. The union reportedly bristled at this idea – shocker – because when it comes to money, the union isn’t much of a union at all.

It’s really an oligarchy.

Angels outfielder Mike Trout entered the 2020 season with a $37.7 million salary, highest in MLB. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Angels outfielder Mike Trout entered the 2020 season with a $37.7 million salary, highest in the majors. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s do some math. Let’s say you have 10 players on a roster for $40 million, but $39 million goes to one player. The AVERAGE salary of that group is $4 million, even though nine of the 10 players make $111,111.11. This is the kind of accounting the union loves because it allows people like Tony Clark to rave about the average salary of a major leaguer, even though 90 percent of the players are getting screwed.

Let’s take the 2019 Red Sox, for example. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Sox paid an average of more than $7.6 million per player. But if you remove the six highest salaries, the Sox’ average number dips to about $4.2 million – below the league average – for 25 other players.

But when it comes to those carrying the burden that comes with a pandemic, well … the lower-paid guys can go to hell. MLB officials know this, which is precisely why they made the offer they did – because they’re trying to create a divide in a union that's a union in name only.

Think about it: if MLB officials wanted to weight pay cuts by salary, they simply do so by percentage. If everybody’s pay gets cut by 30 percent, that is a much bigger loss for Mike Trout than Jose Peraza. But MLB didn’t do that. Instead, it wants Trout to CARRY people like Peraza, all in the hopes of dividing a union that isn’t just dancing with the stars, it’s sleeping with them, too.

Will the union fall for it? Doubtful. Baseball players are, if nothing else, lemmings when it comes to their union. But if 90 percent of the MLB players ever wake up, they’ll realize their union really doesn’t have their best interests in mind.

If it did, it would do a lot more to serve them and less to kiss the backsides of its superstars.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.