We may have a greater understanding of why Boston Red Sox pitcher Collin McHugh previously insisted it shouldn't be mandatory to play amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the agreement between owners and the MLB Players Association for a 60-game regular season that begins in July, union members will receive prorated salaries for the condensed campaign.
Per The Athletic's Evan Drellich, though, some players received an advance this spring that equals or was worth more than a prorated rate for 2020. While those players won't owe clubs refunds due to a fund shared by owners and the MLBPA, athletes such as McHugh essentially will play for free:
Players who received an advance in April and May that is total to more than their prorated salary during the 2020 season do *not* have to pay anything back. Teams get their money back from a joint fund between the MLB and the MLBPA.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 25, 2020
Confirmed that this is indeed the case - so Collin McHugh, whose advance exceeds his 2020 guaranteed salary, won’t have to pay back the Red Sox; MLB and MLBPA will do so jointly. But McHugh will have earned all his salary in advance of the season. https://t.co/EVBTScDhLg https://t.co/YqceSpCtTV— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) June 25, 2020
As Alex Speier of the Boston Globe explained, fans shouldn't feel too bad for any players in this circumstance for a season unlike any other. Contracts include incentives for inning pitches, home runs blasted, awards won, days on the active roster and other accomplishments.
That means there remain financial reasons for plenty of players to suit up and head to ballparks this summer.