Two months after spring training was suspended, there are finally concrete steps being taken toward starting the 2020 MLB season. Let’s catch up on everything you need to know about where things stand.
The Plan is Out
On Monday, the MLB owners agreed on a proposal to present to the players that outlined their plan for starting the season. The proposal includes an 82-game season with teams only playing division rivals and teams from the same geographic division in the other league.
Games will be played in each team’s home stadium without fans, assuming local restrictions allow for it. There will be a modified spring training starting the second week of June, with the season getting underway in early July.
Rosters will be expanded to 30 players with a 20-player taxi squad to cope with the likelihood that there is no minor league baseball this year. Finally, the designated hitter will be universal this season, and the playoffs will be expanded to seven teams from each league.
After owners approved their plan on Monday, they began to discuss that plan with the players. Rule changes like roster sizes and the logistics for a second spring training were among the topics discussed between the sides on Tuesday.
Another prominent topic was the league’s testing policies and MLB’s plans in the event that a player, coach, or staff member tests positive for the coronavirus. Several players have been outspoken in their concerns about their health and safety if baseball is to return this year.
Giving the players satisfactory answers on all of their health-related questions figures to be the first hurdle in discussions before working out agreements on other terms.
The Next Hurdle
Outside of keeping players safe and preventing the spread of coronavirus, the biggest hurdle in negotiations between the owners and players figures to be the finances for the 2020 season. In March, the players agreed to a prorated salary based on the number of games played this year.
Since then, they have been adamant about not taking an additional pay cut. Meanwhile, the plan approved by the owners on Monday calls for a 50-50 revenue sharing plan with the players.
However, Players’ Association executive director Tony Clark was quick to criticize that idea. The players view salaries based on a revenue split to be akin to a salary cap, which the MLBPA has said they will never do.
The owners will likely need to come up with another plan if they hope to reach a financial agreement with the players for the 2020 season.
Not Gonna Happen
Elsewhere in the baseball world, the 2021 World Baseball Classic has been canceled, according to reports. Given the uncertainty of the 2020 season, which could likely spillover into 2021, holding the WBC isn’t viewed as “a priority right now,” said one source.
WBC organizers will likely try to reschedule the event for 2023. However, for MLB players to participate, it will have to be included in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, as the current one expires in December 2021.