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Turner Sports Nears New Major League Baseball Deal

Los Angeles Dodgers player Justin Turner during a 2019 regular season game.
(Image credit: Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)

As Major League Baseball and its players argue over the economic health of the game during a pandemic, the league is near a lucrative new agreement to televise games with AT&T’s Turner Sports.

Under the new deal Turner will pay MLB an average of about $470 million per year from 2022 through 2023, according to Sports Business Daily. That would be up about 40% from the $325 million Turner pays under its current deal.

Fox agreed to a similar percentage increase in 2018.

Turner will continue to televise some MLB post-season games, including a league championship series, two division series and one wild-card game. Turner will be changing what it does during the regular season, exchanging its low-rated Sunday afternoon game to a Tuesday night game in primetime, according to Sports Business Daily. 

When the deal was first reported by The New York Post, it appeared to undercut some of the arguments team owners have been making about baseball’s financial health. The beginning of the season was postponed by the Coronavirus and the players union and management have been squabbling over how much players will get paid during a shortened 2020 season.

“But baseball is dying!” Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen tweeted sarcastically.

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford added in a similar tone, “The industry isn’t that profitable,” just a few days after Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said that in an interview.