Tommy Pham didn't hold back regarding his feelings toward Major League Baseball's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
"This ain't good, man," the San Diego Padres outfielder told Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports. "The vibe we’re getting here is June, maybe July. If we follow the guidelines, who knows, August may be realistic. I know the owners will want to have full stadiums when they open up to make up for the lost revenue."
After the NBA suspended its season last Wednesday night in an unprecedented move, it took until Thursday afternoon for MLB to decide to suspend spring training play. As part of that decision, commissioner Rob Manfred also postponed Opening Day by two weeks. Since then, the league pushed the beginning of the season back again, to at least mid-May.
Even further is the question of payment for athletes who will not be playing their respective sports.
"I don't know if any of us will get paid," Pham added. "But you look around, I got friends in the NHL, they're getting paid. The guys in the NBA are getting paid. How's it going to look if we're the only major sport, and the richest sport bringing in the most revenue, and we're the only ones not getting paid?"
On Tuesday, the league announced an initiative that will see each MLB organization donate $1 million into a fund to be used to pay out-of-work stadium staff across the major and minor leagues. However, major- and minor-league players have been left largely in limbo so far.
With the end of the current collective bargaining agreement looming at the conclusion of the 2021 season, Pham also told Nightengale that he planned to save his entire 2020 salary - a $7.9-million wage - in case there's a strike or lockout around the corner.
Pham, 32, is also in the unique situation of being first eligible for free agency in the same winter that the current CBA expires, which could further complicate his earning potential.
"I was supposed to hit free agency after this season, but (the St. Louis Cardinals) already stole a year of service time from me. So these next two years are very big years for me."
After being called up for six games in the 2014 season, Pham appeared in 130 games between the 2015-16 seasons as he was jettisoned from the majors to the minors. If he stayed with the major-league team for 65 more days, Pham would have accrued an extra year of service time, hit arbitration one year earlier, and been eligible for free agency following the coming campaign.
Now, about to embark on a season with his third team in as many years, Pham is exasperated.
"We have so many questions, and nobody is giving us any damn answers. Are they going to pay us. Are they going to pick up our lease? What happens when we do come back? That's what makes it so frustrating, no one is telling us anything."
Over the past two seasons with the Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays, Pham's become an impact outfielder with regular playing time. In 282 games, the former 16th-round pick has a .274/.368/.456 slash line with 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases.
Pham was traded in December to the Padres from the Rays in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and shortstop prospect Xavier Edwards.