MLB and its umpires have reached an agreement on a new contract for this season in an effort to account for the financial losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Per the Daily News, MLB had originally asked for a 35% cut to the umpires’ salaries.
Sports Illustrated‘s Stephanie Apstein confirmed news of the cut on Friday and reported that while MLB wanted the 76 umpires to take an additional pay cut, the umpires instead offered to waive their right to various scheduling restrictions. Waiving scheduling restrictions gives MLB more flexibility as it attempts to squeeze as many games as possible into as few days as possible.
“Umpires sometimes get portrayed as people that have lost touch with reality and that’s not the case at all,” Bill Miller, the head of the umpires’ union, told Sports Illustrated on Friday. “We wanted more and I’m sure [MLB] wanted more, but we all wanted to do the right thing here. … We’re very grateful we can potentially go back to work.”
Apstein notes that the umpires are also concerned over the idea that COVID-19 can have the strongest effect on older people. Umpires, Apstein writes, are generally older (they range from 31 to 68) and in poorer health than the players and coaches.
According to the Associated Press, replay reviews could vanish as a result of the new deal as it gives MLB the right to not use instant replays of umpires’ decisions during the 2020 season.
Per the AP, umpires are guaranteed 50% of their salaries for May, but would be paid no additional money if this season is canceled 2020.
MLB’s suspend its operations indefinitely in mid-March. Its potential start date remains unknown.