Umpires reach deal with MLB for coronavirus-shortened season, take 30 percent pay cut

Jack Baer
·Writer
·3-min read

As MLB continues to inch toward something resembling a plan to return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league has managed to avoid a potential showdown with its umpires’ union.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

According to the New York Daily News, MLB and the umpires’ union have agreed to a terms on a contract for a pandemic-shortened baseball season. The new deal comes less than 24 hours after USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported the league forced the umpires to renegotiate the contract.

The reworked agreement will result in about a 30 percent decrease in pay for the umpires. MLB has originally asked the umpires to take a 35 percent pay cut.

Here’s how much MLB umpires make, and why some thought the pay cut would be unfair

Per Nightengale, MLB umpires’ salary range from $110,000 to $432,800. Their pay is reportedly structured so that they are paid on the first day of every month, with bonuses for working playoff games that MLB will keep intact.

If no agreement with the umpires had been reached, MLB reportedly said the group would not be paid until the resumption of the regular season.

Naturally, the umpires took issue with that stance. From USA Today:

“We understand the hardships of this pandemic,’’ one veteran umpire said, “but there are a lot of concerns. If you cut Joe West’s salary in half, he would still make a couple of hundred thousand. If you cut our young umpires’ salaries in half, it will cripple them, and take years to recover.

“We just want to be treated fairly.’’

The Associated Press provided more details on the 2020 pay structure under the reworked deal:

The umps will be paid a pro-rated share of their salaries based on games over a 182-day season, according to a copy of the four-page term sheet obtained by The Associated Press. Umpires have already been paid from January through April and will be paid at a 50% rate in May.

MLB has also reached an agreement with the MLB Players Association that covers what will happen in the event of a shortened or canceled season. Players will be paid a pro-rated salary based on the length of the season, with owners advancing portions of the salaries across April and May.

Additionally, active MLB players will still accrue a year of service time and be eligible to hit free agency as scheduled, even if the season is canceled.

Impact on replay

According to Associated Press, the new agreement also gives MLB the right to not use instant replays of umpires' decisions during the 2020 season.

That would come more into play if MLB elects to play all or a majority of the season at spring training ballparks in Arizona and Florida. Those facilities are not properly equipped for replay reviews, which is why replay is not used during spring training.

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