KC Royals Midweek Musings: Shaky labor talks, Japan, and expansion

KC Royals (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
KC Royals (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

This edition of KC Royals Midweek Musings examines ongoing labor talks, baseball in Japan, possible MLB expansion and other tidbits.

Various KC Royals Midweek Musings while trying to think good thoughts about the potential restart of Major League Baseball:

Union unhappy with MLB’s compensation offer.  As anticipated, MLB delivered a new compensation proposal to the Major League Baseball Players Association Tuesday. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the league didn’t offer to split 2020 revenue equally; instead, it proposed a sliding scale-type compensation schedule that, if accepted, would proportionally reduce the pay of higher-salaried players more than it would those with lower pay packages.

MLB’s formula would drastically reduce salaries by prorating each on a games-played basis; a further reduction could be made by cutting the prorated pay by a certain percentage.

Passan and others reported late Tuesday that the union didn’t receive the offer favorably.

Some will view the league’s proposal as an attempt to sow discontent and dissension within the union and split it. Players at both ends of the pay spectrum want to be paid; conceivably, players at the low end may have more immediate needs for money than those at the high end, and any efforts by the more affluent union members to preserve as much of their pay as they can might be viewed as selfish by the former group. A union schism won’t work in its members’ favor.

Such a tactic is common in labor-management relationships and negotiations; if that’s what the league is up to, it could backfire if MLBPA executive director Tony Clark can maintain order and discipline in his ranks.

As of this writing, the MLBPA hadn’t formally responded to MLB’s proposal, but expect it to be rejected. At that point, the union will probably do one of three things–make an immediate counter offer, tell the league a counter will be made soon, or walk away from the table. In any event, the pay issues aren’t likely to be resolved for at least a few days.

Japan planning for a June Opening Day.  While Major League Baseball continues preliminary work geared to resuming operations in the United States, baseball officials in Japan have decided to start that country’s season June 19. Assuming all goes according to plan, the Nippon Professional Baseball league regular season games will resume a few weeks after the Korean Baseball Organization League opened in early May in South Korea.

Not surprisingly, empty ballparks will greet the 12 NPB teams; the KBOL is also playing without fans in the stands and MLB plans to start its season in the same manner.

The NPB usually plays 143 games but appears to have decided to trim 23 contests for this season.

Is expansion on MLB’s horizon?  Major League Baseball Trade Rumors recently began a series projecting which players the 30 MLB teams should protect in a hypothetical expansion draft. Kings of Kauffman’s own Tyler Dierking analyzed the KC Royals and assembled his own list of players the club would need to shield in such a draft. But is expansion a realistic possibility?

The answer is “Yes.” The major leagues haven’t expanded since Tampa Bay and Arizona began play in 1998. Twenty-one years is a long time to go without adding teams, especially considering the fervent desires of several locales to host big league teams.

The yet to be determined economic fallout of COVID-19 adds some fuel to the expansion equation–clubs will be looking for ways to make up for at least some of the revenues lost to the pandemic, and ownership groups will have to pay quite handsomely for the right to start and operate new franchises.

Expect expansion rumors to increase in the near future.

Baseball-Reference simulation continues.  Our weekly updates of the virtual KC Royals in Baseball-Reference.com’s simulated 2020 season continues with the news that the club went 3-4 over the past week and is now 22-33. Kansas City lost a 1-0 heartbreaker at Boston Tuesday; Danny Duffy gave up only four hits in eight innings. Whit Merrifield had both the Royals’ hits and raised his team-leading average to .320.

The Royals had won two in a row before the loss; their longest winning “streak” of the season is three and they’ve lost seven in a row once.

Adalberto Mondesi continues to pace the team with eight home runs while Brett Phillips and Hunter Dozier each have seven. After slamming a club record 48 homers last season, Jorge Soler has six but is batting only .187.

Jorge Lopez still leads the pitchers with five wins and Ian Kennedy has 10 saves. Rookie Brady Singer is 1-5 with a 7.50 ERA in six starts.

The Royals remain in fourth place in the AL Central, 10-and-a-half games behind the first-place Indians. The Yankees, Astros, Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers are the other division leaders.

Baseball-Reference uses Out of the Park Baseball 21 for its sim and daily updates are available around noon.

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That’s it for this week. We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings. Until then, stay safe and healthy.