Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. says baseball 'isn't very profitable'

St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. is the second major league baseball owner in a week to say that the sport doesn't produce a lot of profit as labor negotiations between the owners and players continue, with the 2020 season hanging in the balance.

"The industry isn't very profitable, to be honest," DeWitt said on 590TheFan in St. Louis. "And I think they [the players] understand that. They think owners are hiding profits. There's been a bit of distrust there.

"It's a bit of a zero-sum game. They have by far the best deal of any players in any sport."

DeWitt echoed comments made recently by Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, who said the league doesn't make a lot of cash because owners put most of their revenue back into their teams.

DeWitt isn't wrong about the distrust, as players have coalesced around getting paid full, prorated salaries for this season. Owners claim that the more games they play at full salary, the more they lose.

"We have a duty now to leave the game in better shape," Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis said Tuesday during an appearance on ESPN 1000. "And if we take concessions now ... if you give them an inch, they take a mile, with these owners sometimes."

Kipnis and DeWitt are in agreement on one thing: There will be no agreement between the players and owners, forcing the commissioner's hand.

"At some point, we have a right to implement a season [at] full salary," DeWitt said. "The only way it makes sense is with a shorter season. I think that's the way it will turn out."

Kipnis added: "It doesn't sound like we're going to come to an agreement because the sides are too far apart."

Both sides were critical of how the negotiations have gone to this point. DeWitt was particularly critical of the players' first counter offer, in which they suggested a 114-game season. He called it "far-reaching" and a "little bit ridiculous."

"You're going to be Christmas shopping while watching the World Series on television," DeWitt said.

Kipnis pointed to the tactics of ownership, starting with leaks the players believe have come from the league.

"This shouldn't be a public matter at all," he said. "That was their intention of trying to get the public on their side to make it look like the players are holding it up.

"It feels like they almost make a proposal just so they can be the last ones to say, 'Oh, we're trying. We made the last proposal, so if the game doesn't start up, it's on the players.'"

DeWitt was asked why he thinks the union believes that the offer on the table -- players getting 75% of their prorated salaries for a 76-game season -- is a step back.

"I thought to myself, what are they talking about?" DeWitt said. "The prior offer was 60%. This is 75%. I don't get it."

Neither do the players. Kipnis was reticent to claim that the players won't play if a 50-game season is unilaterally implemented, but he didn't dismiss it, either.

"You never rule it out," Kipnis said. "It pains me to say that. If it comes to the point where we put our foot down and stand for what we believe in, it's something we would have to do. I don't think anyone wants that."

Although the rhetoric continues to be aggressive from both sides, the Cardinals owner doesn't think there will be irreparable harm to the game.

"Baseball has been through a lot over a long period of time and always survived and come back stronger," DeWitt said. "You can't get too caught up in the heat of the moment and say it's the death knell of any sport."