A day after Rays lefty Blake Snell explained on a Twitch live stream that he will not play this season if his salary is reduced beyond the prorated "guarantee" that was agreed upon with owners in March, Bryce Harper responded on a Twitch live stream of his own.
"What did Snell say earlier on his stream, do you know?" Harper asked his fellow Fortnite streamer, Phillies prospect Bryson Stott.
When the message was relayed, Harper said:
Complete coverage of the Fightin' Phils and their MLB rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
"He ain't lying, he's speaking the truth bro. I ain't mad at him. Somebody's gotta say it, at least he manned up and said it. Good for him. I love Snell, the guy's a beast. One of the best lefties in the game."
This is what Snell had said a day earlier:
"Y'all gotta understand, man, for me to go - for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof. No, I gotta get my money. I'm not playing unless I get mine, OK? And that's just the way it is for me. Like, I'm sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I'm making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?
"Bro, I'm risking my life. What do you mean it should not be a thing? It should 100% be a thing. If I'm gonna play, I should be getting the money I signed to be getting paid. I should not be getting half of what I'm getting paid because the season's cut in half, on top of a 33% cut of the half that's already there -- so I'm really getting, like, 25%. On top of that, it's getting taxed. So imagine how much I'm actually making to play, you know what I'm saying?
"I'm just saying, it doesn't make sense for me to lose all of that money and then go play. And then be on lockdown, not around my family, not around the people I love, and getting paid way the hell less -- and then the risk of injury runs every time I step on the field."
MLB owners approved a plan that would have the season begin in early July, provided enough testing is in place and public health officials have signed off on the parameters being sufficiently safe. There is still, however, the issue of player pay. The initial agreement guaranteed players a full year of service time, 4% of their 2020 salaries through the end of May, and then the prorated amount of their salary based on the number of games played this season.
However, owners have since pushed for a 50-50 revenue split with players because of the extraordinary circumstances, and are seeking a further reduction of the prorated pay because of the steep financial losses of playing out a season without fans in the stands. Ticket sales accounted for approximately $4-5 billion last season.
The players' association, led by executive director Tony Clark, has countered that the owners are taking advantage of the global pandemic to institute a salary cap.
On a CNN town hall Thursday night, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said that if there is no season, the losses for owners could approach $4 billion.
"Playing in empty stadiums is not a great deal for us economically," Manfred said, "but our owners are committed to doing that because they feel it's important that the game be back on the field and that the game be a sign of a beginning to return to normalcy to American life the way we've always enjoyed it."