Blake Snell: Pay cut is not worth the 'risk' of playing

Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Charlotte Sports Park on February 26, 2020 in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Twins defeated the Rays 10-8. ( Joe Robbins/Getty Images )

As Major League Baseball looks to start back up, a brewing storm over payer play could wash everything out before the games even get started. 

Rays star pitcher and Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell is the latest to weigh in on the controversy, vowing that he won’t play for less pay this season. 

“For me to take a pay cut is not happening because the risk is through the roof,” Snell explained over his Twitch video game streaming channel on Wednesday. “It’s a shorter season, less pay. I gotta get my money I’m not playing unless I get mine.”

This week, the MLB presented the players union with a plan to restart the season in July. The proposed 82-game season would be about half a regular season. 

In March, players agreed to be paid on a pro-rated basis once the season started, so players would be looking at half their expected salary for the year. The plan to reopen, however, will now mean playing without fans in the stands, and now owners are asking players to take an even further pay cut to share in the lost revenue. 

For Snell, it’s too big of an ask.  

“It doesn’t make sense for me to lose all of that money and then go play,” said Snell. “The risk of injury runs every time I step on the field. I love baseball to death, but it’s just not worth it.”

Snell says the players are being asked to take on all of the risk- potential injuries and deadly coronavirus exposure- while giving back to the richest guys in the game: the owners. 

“The owners are loaded. I don’t know why they want a pay cut. They’re billionaires! The owners are greedy and they’re trying to play the athletes,'' said Snell, who went on to point out that his critique didn’t include Rays’ owner Stu Sternberg. “I love our owner by the way. I’m just talking owners in general. Stu’s dope. He actually cares.”

Snell was set to begin reaping the rewards of his successful career this year. Entering the second year of his five-year $50 million contract extension, his salary was set to jump from $1 million to $7 million. 

“I’m risking my life. What do you mean it should not be a thing? It should 100% be a thing,” Snell told other gamers. “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-percent cut of the half that’s already there so I’m really getting, like, 25-percent. On top of of that, it’s getting taxed.”

It’s unclear what Snell would potentially earn this season under the new ask from ownership. The terms of that additional pay cut have not been made public, but Snell made clear it’s non-starter for him. 

“It’s not worth it if it's a pay cut. If it's no pay cut, I get mine, we could talk. I want to play," he said.

Snell certainly isn’t alone on this one either. Across the league, several players have criticized the MLB over concerns for player safety and pay cuts. Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer told USA Today, the proposal “laughable.”

“It doesn't sit well with me. Slightly lighthearted," Bauer said, "but if I'm gonna have to trust my salary to Rob Manfred marketing the game to make more money for the game, I am out on that."