Bryce Harper respects Blake Snell for speaking publicly about the risks of playing in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Harper came down on Snell’s side after getting a briefing on what the Rays left-hander said Wednesday about the health dangers and the idea that players may have to take a pay cut this season.
“He’s speaking the truth, bro,” Harper told Phillies minor leaguer Bryson Stott in a video posted Thursday by NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I ain’t mad at him. He’s speaking the truth. Somebody’s got to say it. At least he manned up and said it. Good for him.
“Love Snell, man. Guy’s a beast, too. One of the best lefties in the game, bro.”
Harper is entering the second year of a 13-year, $ 330 million contract.
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Snell said on a Twitch stream that “I need my money,” or else he’d sit out. He has expanded on those comments since then, but he remains committed to not playing if MLB and the players association agree to a revenue-sharing agreement that may cost players more money.
Players agreed in March to take a prorated portion of their 2020 salaries based on the number of games played this year. If MLB plays its proposed 82-game schedule, then players would receive about half their salaries.
“I want people to understand, what I’m saying is real,” Snell told The Athletic (subscription required). “I’m concerned just like everybody else about the virus, and I want to make sure me and my peers are taken care of. We want to play under circumstances that we agreed upon as a group. I will play if I get 50 percent and we play 50 percent of the season. But to accept making less than that and with more risks for our health, it’s not fair to the players.
“I have love for all the essential workers. I have friends and family who are in health care, working essential jobs. Everybody needs to understand this is us wanting fair treatment during a crazy time with the pandemic going on.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday night that baseball would not force individual players to play if they have concerns.
“We hope that we will able to convince the vast majority of our players that it’s safe to return to work,” he said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “If there’s players with either health conditions or just their own personal doubts, we would never force them or try to force them to come back to work. They can wait until they feel they’re ready to come.”