With the 2020 baseball season in question, Major League Baseball owners approved of a plan that will address various salary and service-time issues, along with when we could potentially see the season get underway.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have a deal, sources tell ESPN. The players have voted on it already. MLB owners are expected to ratify it tomorrow. An excellent sign that draws a path forward as baseball tries to figure out when it will return.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 27, 2020
The agreement was reached last night, as the MLB and players’ union negotiated for weeks as to what the best possible outcome could be. Among those who were involved included players, owners, agents, executives, union officials and commissioner’s office staff.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the players and MLB agreed that the 2020 season will not start until each of the following conditions were met:
- There are no bans on mass gatherings that would limit the ability to play in front of fans. However, the commissioner could still consider the “use of appropriate substitute neutral sites where economically feasible”;
- There are no travel restrictions throughout the United States and Canada;
- Medical experts determine that there would be no health risks for players, staff or fans, with the commissioners and union still able to revisit the idea of playing in empty stadiums.
The caveat agreed to by the players and league is that they will consider playing games at neutral sites instead of home ballparks — and will consider the feasibility of playing in empty stadiums and just how proper a solution it may be for both sides and especially fans.
The good news, though, is that both the owners and players want to play as many games as they possibly can in 2020. Though it doesn’t look like there will be a full 162-game season, there definitely can be more games played than expected.
According to Passan, both sides are willing to extend the regular season into October, where as the season normally ends around the end of September. Additionally, there would be neutral-site playoff games played in November. In order to fit in as many games as possible, there were discussions about adding doubleheaders onto the schedule.
You would think with doubleheaders being added to the schedule, we could possibly see roster expansion from the current 26-man, but that’s an issue for a later time.
In regards to service time, the players wanted to make sure they got a full year of service time, even if the 2020 season gets cancelled entirely. This counts towards numerous areas, such as free agency and arbitration.
MLB owners will advance players $170 million for April and May, sources tell ESPN. If there is no season, that money will be kept by the players.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 27, 2020
In regards to the MLB Draft, Commissioner Rob Manfred has the ability to shorten the 2020 draft to as few as five rounds, and it will be moved from it’s normal date in June to sometime in July. Here’s what Passan had to say about that last night.
In the deal, MLB has the right to shorten the 2020 draft to five rounds, sources tell ESPN. Additionally, it can delay the start of the international signing period to as late as January 2021. MLB also can shorten the 2021 draft to 20 rounds, and push back the 2021-22 international signing period to January 2022 through December 2022, per sources. Because the season will clearly be shorter, the arbitration rules will be adjusted so players are not penalized for putting up counting stats that don’t stack up to past comparables. Made lots of sense to do it this way.
Players that are drafted in 2020 will get only $100,000 of their bonus this year. The remaining amount of their bonus will be split into payments made in July 2021 and July 2022. Additionally, teams will be unable to trade draft picks or international slot money moving forward.
Starting today, a transaction freeze will go into effect that will prevent teams from signing free agents, trading players and making roster moves.
A lot transpired over the last 24 hours, and there is a lot to take in. Here’s to hoping the start of the baseball season is sooner, rather than later.