With Major League Baseball veering toward a Titanic-like disaster, Scott Boras, trying to rally the playing universe, invoked a Leonardo DiCaprio line from the epic film about the ill-fated cruise liner:
“This is horse[bleep]. Don’t you believe it. Don’t.”
The superagent wrote an email to his nearly 100 playing clients advising them to not accept further pay reductions beyond the prorated salary to which they agreed in a late March deal with Major League Baseball. His reasoning stands as reliable, venerable and honorable as The Unsinkable Molly Brown: The owners, requesting further concessions out of concerns for their bottom line, are crying poor.
“Remember, games cannot be played without you,” Boras wrote in the email, which the Associated Press obtained. “Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated.”
The agent added that clubs’ problems emanate from debt financing that works well in normal times, just not when the world has been shattered by a pandemic.
MLB declined comment. On Tuesday, MLB proposed a sliding scale to the MLB Players Association by which the highest-paid players would see their salaries hit the hardest. The PA didn’t take kindly to that and is expected to counter with a suggestion that the teams play about 110 games, rather than the proffered 82. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, a Boras client, tweeted late Wednesday night that the players would not accept any less money. The two sides would like to get a deal done next week in order to restart the season in early July, following a mid-June spring training.
The March pact included language that the two sides would “discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites.” While many on the players’ side have attempted to dismiss that language as vague or noncommittal, it’s hard to envision why else it would be in there if not to reconsider player compensation in the event of games without fans, as would be the case at least for the outset in July. The Post’s Joel Sherman reported last week of an MLB email that strongly indicated the PA understood the consequences of that language as the two sides signed off on it.
However, players certainly can stand on the principle that they deserve their prorated pay given that they’re the ones putting themselves in harm’s way. And as long as owners, especially those who operate their own regional sports networks, refuse to disclose all of their financial data, it always will be fair game to question how much pain they’re truly suffering.
Boras urged his clients to “please share this concept with your teammates and fellow players when MLB requests further concessions or deferral of salaries.” On Wednesday, All-Star pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted the widely held notion, one that multiple sources denied, that Boras was “meddling in MLBPA affairs.”
In an interview with The Post Wednesday night, Boras, declining to directly address Bauer’s tweet, said, “The solidarity of this player group, they’re very unified. I think the players have a very clear understanding of what they want to do and the basis for it, and they’re unified in their purpose.”
If Boras’ clients agree with and spread his counsel, that purpose could challenge the owners’ poverty claims all the way to the finish line.
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