Philadelphia Daily News - March 18, 1980

Big Leagues Ready for Salary Scale?


By Bill Conlin


You've just come into your own as a big league baseball star. After decent stats as a rookie and second-year player, your career has skyrocketed.


You've hit.330 with 35 homers and 125 RBI, fielded your outfield position like Roberto Clemente. Even better, you made the All-Star team and finished second in the MVP balloting.


Move over Dave Winfield and Dave Parker, here you come. Just back the Brinks truck up the driveway, please, and start shoveling.


NOT QUITE. Under the proposal currently on the bargaining table in negotiations between the Players Association and Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee, you'd be eligible to make a maximum of $112,900 in your fourth season. If you had won the MVP Award, management could have tacked on a bonus – at management's discretion, of course.


The maximum salary scale for players with less than six years of service is one of the main bones of contention in a package Ray Grebey, the Player Relation Committee attorney, figures is the greatest document since the Magna Charta.  It is part of an informational document labeled “Confidential – For Internal Use Only." But dribs have leaked here and drabs have leaked there. It might be the most scrutinized secret document since the plans for the Bay of Pigs invasion. It is so secret that Grebey is releasing it to the press today.


In a normal labor relations climate it is probably a terrific package. But we're not dealing with the UAW or the Teamsters here. We're dealing with management gone mad on one hand and a rank and file on the other determined that the owners reponsible for the proliferation of colossal salaries are not bound and gagged by their more sensible brethren.


Marvin Miller has already called the proposal "trivial" – at least. Here are some of its highlights:


PENSION AND INSURANCE – An increase of approximately 40 percent ("already rendered obsolete by inflation." Miller says). Examples of pension benefits: A player with five years' service who elects to receive benefits at age 45 would receive $465 a month. A 10-year man who begins collecting at age 55 would get $1,784 a month. A 20-year man who starts payments at age 65 would get $4,217 a month ($50,604 a year).


The biggest improvement in the plan, according to the owners, is a change in fully vested membership requirements. Players would now be fully vested after one day of big league service. A player currently must put in four full big league seasons to be eligible for pension benefits. Cynics feel the owners are trying to enlist the loyalty of younger players in case of a strike.


Insurance and medical benefits are increased significantly. (Example: Life insurance and accidental death benefits would be increased to $150,000 from $50,000 for active members Medical benefits increased to $250,000 from $100,000 for major medical expense.


FREE AGENCY – The big deal nere, ol course, is the dreaded compensation proposal. The highlights: No compensation if a player is selected by 0 to 3 clubs. An amateur draft choice if a player is selected by 4-to-7 clubs. If selected by 8-to-13 clubs, "Amateur draft choice plus one major or minor league player not on club's 15-man protected list." The Players Association position simply stated is, "Death before compensation."


ALLOWANCES – This has to do with walking-around money. The owners have proposed the following increases for 1980, with cost of living adjustments through '83: Daily Road Allowance (meal money) to $33.50 from $29.50. A $28 weekly increase in spring training allowance (currently $285.50). A $500 supplement to cover the first seven days' in-season moving expenses after a player is raded.


WORLD SERIES PLAYER POOL – Winners pool minimum guarantee increased to $720,000, losers pool to $540,000, League Championship losers pool to $500,000. No big deal. Player pools consistently have exceeded those amounts.


CONTRACT LANGUAGE REVISIONS – Most significant of these procedural points would be creation of a Major League Baseball Physicians Committee which would provide injured players with lists of medical specialists to whom they could go, at their request, for diagnosis and second opinions. The players' clubs are to pay for the "second evaluation." That cheer in the background is from the AMA. The second inter-league trading period would be extended two weeks to April 1.


INCREASED SALARY MlNIMUMS – Increase to $25,000 in 1980 and '81. to $28,500 in '82 and '83. That's great news for rookies who have not had their last "minor league" contract negotiated by an agent.


The controversial maximum salary scale begins with a $50,800 ceiling for players with 0-to-1 year of major league service and increases to $192,000 for players with 5-to-6 years service. "Upper salary levels do NOT apply to bonuses for MVP of League, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award and Gold Glove winners."


A player with more than four years' service rates an asterisk which provides that the maximum levels do not apply if a multi-year contract is signed extending beyond the year he is eligible for free agency.


There it is. The Great Offer. Ray Grebey will run it up the flagpole today to see if the fans salute.


PHILUPS: Rookie catcher Keith Moreland had a triple, two singles and a stolen base to pace the Phils' 9-3 victory over the Red Sox in Winter Haven… Dick Ruthven pitched the first three innings, allowing one run and three hits... Rookie second baseman Jay Loviglio triggered a five-run eighth with a bases-loaded single. Ruthven was followed bv Dickie Noles, Jim Wright, Rawly Eastwick and Kevin Saucier.