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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Stories by Larry Brown:

Details on MLB’s sliding wage scale proposal revealed

Rob Manfred

MLB and the MLB players association are negotiating to determine financial terms for a fan-less, shortened season, and we have some details about the proposals.

MLB owners proposed a sliding scale of wage reductions, where those getting paid the most would take the biggest hit, and those getting paid the least would receive the greatest amount of their full wage.

Here is what the proposed scale would look like for an 82-game season, via Jon Heyman.

For a side-by-side comparison, you can see how much a player would make for a full season vs. what they would make based on the proposal.

One of the central issues to the wage debate is that the owners want players to share in the financial losses the sport will incur. They are proposing prorated salaries at a reduced rate to reflect the financial losses.

Many MLB teams have furloughed employees and implemented salary cuts. Similar to these proposed player cuts, the cuts often work where those making the most take the biggest percentage hit.

How you feel about the proposed cuts depends on whether you think the players should share a great deal in the economic losses the league will be facing. We know of at least one player who is against it.

From our view, both sides need to come to an agreement, because not playing a season would be a terrible look for the health of the sport, which has already been in decline.

Oakland A’s will stop paying minor league players their $400 a week after May

The Oakland A’s have long been viewed as a small-market, frugal organization, and their latest move holds to that perception.

The A’s told their minor league players that they will stop paying them after May ends.

The letter says despite not being paid by the A’s, the players are unable to perform services for another club.

Passan points out that minor league players get $400 a week and that paying them through August would amount to around $5,000 per player. Altogether, remaining committed to paying minor league players through August would cost a team around an estimated $1 million.

MLB teams are unable to play games as planned and any games they will be playing in the near future would be without fans, meaning they are hurting for revenue and stand to lose a lot of money. Still, the thought of not being able to pay minor leaguers $400 a week does not reflect well upon the organization. Players will continue to have their health care covered by the team.

A Twins minor leaguer recently pointed out how tough they have it. Maybe an A’s player can pull a Shin-Soo Choo to help out, but you have to wonder why it would be a player stepping up before the team owner.

Report: Kentucky Derby favorite Charlatan tested positive for banned substance lidocaine

Bob Baffert

Two Bob Baffert-trained horses tested positive for banned substances during the Arkansas Derby earlier this month, the Louisville Courier Journal reported on Tuesday. One of his two winners from the derby were among the two positive tests.

Baffert’s horses Charlatan and Nadal both won races, and both The Daily Racing Form and The New York Times say Charlatan tested positive. The Times says Gamine is the other horse that tested positive. Both horses reportedly tested positive for lidocaine.

Baffert issued a statement saying he was disappointed the news became public.

“The rules of the Arkansas Racing Commission mandate confidentiality concerning any investigation into an alleged rule violation until there is a written decision of the Stewards. I am extremely disappointed that, in this instance, the Commission has not followed its own rules on confidentiality. I am hoping for an expedited investigation and look forward to being able to speak soon about any written decision of the Stewards if and when it becomes necessary and I’m allowed to under the Commission’s confidentiality rules.”

Charlatan is the favorite to win September’s Kentucky Derby at 5:1 odds. Charlatan and Gamine will have second samples tested. They both would have to test positive a second time for the tests to be considered positive. A second positive test would result in the disqualification of both horses for the Arkansas Derby, and would cost Charlatan 100 points towards qualifying for the Kentucky Derby. Daily Racing Form has full details on what the fallout would be from the test.

Another Baffert horse, Justify, failed a drug test prior to beginning his Triple Crown campaign.

Denard Span close to announcing his retirement

Denard Span has not played since the 2018 MLB season and is not signed to a team currently. Now 36, the free agent outfielder says he is close to retiring.

Span spoke with The Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse for an article published on Saturday. It’s a good read if you are interested in Span.

In the article, Span told Reusse that he is considering retirement.

“I haven’t announced it, officially, but maybe this is it,” Span told Reusse.

Span received a $4 million buyout from the Seattle Mariners after the 2018 season. He says he received some offers last year but did not feel they fairly valued him, so he didn’t play. Now he’s a year older, more rusty, and there is a pandemic that has slowed the baseball season. The likelihood of him returning seems less and less, though it’s not out of the question.

Span still said he received minor-league contract offers this year, but he did not feel they offered a good path to the Majors even if he played well. Span hit over .300 three seasons during his career and offered good defense in the outfield as a speedster. He batted .261 with a .760 OPS in the 2018 season, which are solid enough numbers where you would figure someone would want him on their team.

Report: DraftKings has looked into buying Bleacher Report

Draft Kings

Business may soon be booming for DraftKings, and they are looking to keep growing.

According to a report from Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy, DraftKings has explored an acquisition of Bleacher Report.

DraftKings is arguably the leader in daily fantasy sports and also offers sports betting in states that have legalized it. With more states looking to legalize sports betting, DraftKings is positioned to capitalize through their digital sports betting platforms. They recently went public and have exploded in value. With a stock price of $33.49 per share as of Tuesday’s market close, they are valued at $10.43 billion.

Bleacher Report was purchased by Turner for $175 million in 2012. AT&T owns Turner and could look to sell some assets to raise cash, which helps explain why DraftKings would explore a purchase.

Bleacher Report is one of the leaders in the digital sports media world and would offer not only media reach, but a huge reach in terms of sports betting users/customers through B/R’s popular app.

This has been a pattern sports betting companies are exploring. Penn National Gaming bought a 33 percent stake in Barstool Sports for $163 million in cash and stock earlier this year. Through the acquisition, Penn gained access to Barstool’s growing rabid fan base which is full of sports bettors.

Marcus Stroman expresses doubts about 2020 MLB season

Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman on Tuesday expressed doubt about the 2020 MLB season taking place.

Stroman tweeted that the season was “not looking promising.” He still said he was staying ready and staying positive.

Stroman’s comments come the same day the MLBPA expressed disappointment after their negotiations with MLB over player salaries in a shortened season. Perhaps his tweets are part of a negotiating tactic.

Stroman is entering his second season with the Mets after being traded to them by the Toronto Blue Jays last season. The 29-year-old is set to earn $12 million this year, though that will likely be reduced if the shortened season takes place. Stroman is set to be a free agent next year, regardless of whether or not there is a season. He went 10-13 with a 3.22 ERA last season.

MLBPA ‘very disappointed’ with MLB over economic proposal

MLB logo

While the NBA and NHL seem on track for returns to action and the NFL seems to be going about things nearly business as usual, MLB continues to lag behind because of pay disputes.

MLB and the players’ union met on Tuesday to discuss an economic proposal having to do with how the limited revenue will be divided between the sides. According to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, the MLBPA is “very disappointed” with the proposal.

The two sides have been at odds.

They first reached an agreement early on in the pandemic, but that was based on fans being able to attend games. The lack of fans will cost the sport a huge chunk of its revenue pie, so the owners are looking to make adjustments and have players take less money so that the losses are more evenly shared between them and the players.

The two sides should be motivated to get a deal done, and we expect they will. MLB would like to have a shortened season start in July, so they would have to reach a deal soon to meet their desired timeline.

It’s early in the negotiation process and things should improve, but having them bicker over these matters publicly reflects poorly on those involved in the league.

Clay Helton still leaving door open for JT Daniels to return to USC

JT Daniels USC

When a student-athlete enters the transfer portal, that player is likely gone. But in Clay Helton’s case, he still leaves the door open for his players.

Helton said during an appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show” Friday that he is still open to having quarterback JT Daniels return to the team even though Daniels put his name in the portal.

“JT and I talk every week and [I’m] working with his family as he works through the process,” Helton told Eisen, via USCFootball.com. “JT is such a great kid, and a great player, and came to us in the spring and said, ‘Coach, I’d like to evaluate all my options for 2020. USC is one of those options.’ That door is being left open for him.”

Helton took the same approach with Trojans backup quarterbacks Matt Fink and Jack Sears. Fink entered the transfer portal last year but ended up returning to the team and serving as Kedon Slovis’ backup after Daniels suffered a torn ACL in the team’s opener. Sears put his name in the portal and was given the option to return to the team, though he ended up transferring to Boise State.

Helton is operating in a player-friendly fashion, and his strategy of handling his players who have interest in transferring in such a favorable manner will likely work to his benefit. In this case, it’s not hard to see why he would want Daniels to return. Daniels was a five-star recruit and started as a true freshman in 2018. He would be great insurance in case Slovis gets hurt, especially since USC lost Bryce Young to Alabama.