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These St. Louis pro athletes took major pay cuts due to COVID-19

Here’s a rundown of what the pay cuts meant for St. Louis’ major sports teams
Credit: AP
St. Louis Cardinals closing pitcher Alex Reyes, right, celebrates with catcher Yadier Molina after the Cardinals defeated the San Diego Padres 7-4 in Game 1 of a National League wild-card baseball series Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

ST. LOUIS — The COVID-19 pandemic led St. Louis’ major professional sports teams to have seasons unlike any other.

The St. Louis Cardinals played a shortened 58-game 2020 season that included a 17-day period without games due to players contracting the virus. The St. Louis Blues had their 2019-2020 season put on hold in March due to the pandemic and resumed play months later as part of a 24-team playoff held in two “bubble cities” in Canada.

The oddities of the 2020 season also created new math for players on each team. Major League Baseball and National Hockey League players took on pay cuts this year as part of their league's reduced schedules. How each league dealt with the pandemic varied based on labor negotiations, where each team was in the season when COVID-19 hit, and provisions in collective bargaining agreements.

Here’s a rundown of what the pay cuts meant for St. Louis’ major sports teams:

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals were projected to have an estimated player payroll of about $168 million, according to FanGraphs. But with the shortened season, the Cardinals’ payroll ended up being $71.1 million, according to salary tracking website Spotrac, with MLB players earning roughly about 37% of their original salaries in 2020.

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt had the largest amount of money cut from his salary of any Cardinals player. Goldschmidt, who was in the first season of a five-year, $130 million contract, was set to make $26 million in 2020. His 2020 salary, adjusted for the shortened season, ended up being $12.1 million, according to Spotrac.

Other Cardinals players whose salaries decreased by several million dollars include catcher Yadier Molina and outfielder Dexter Fowler. Molina was scheduled to earn $20 million this season while Fowler’s contract called for him to make $16.5 million. Their adjusted salaries were each roughly around $7.4 million.

The 2020 MLB regular season, which was played without crowds, has left MLB teams with significant revenue losses. The loss in revenue could potentially continue into the 2021 season. Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said recently the Cardinals are preparing to be ready for any of three scenarios in 2021: another season without fans, limited attendance with social distancing requirements in place and a return to normal with full attendance.

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