The MLB and MLBAA have come to an agreement
Thursday, March 26 was supposed to be Opening Day for baseball. Instead, the season has been delayed as the sports world is on hold. The MLB played 30 classic baseball games for their new promo OpeningDayAtHome. While baseball fans were watching reruns of their favorite teams, the league was busy as they made an announcement regarding the upcoming season that will have a ripple effect.
The MLB and MLBPA came to an agreement on the possibility of a shortened/canceled season. Jeff Passan of ESPN stated, “…the players and MLB primarily agreed that the 2020 season will not start until each of the following conditions are met:”. He stated the conditions as the following,
- “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.”
It is unlikely the 2020 season will be a full 162 games, but commissioner Rob Manfred assured Scott Van Pelt of ESPN that the league will be back this year. Manfred told Van Pelt, “Look, my optimistic outlook is that at some point in May, we’ll be gearing back up. We’ll have to make a determination, depending what the precise date is, as to how much of a preparation period we need, whether that preparation period is going to be done in the clubs’ home cities or back in Florida and Arizona. Again, I think the goal would be to get as many regular-season games as possible and think creatively about how we can accomplish that goal.”
While both sides have to wait for all of the stipulations to be met, they came to an agreement on service time. In the new agreement, the MLB will be paying players an early advance of 170 million for April and May. But in return, players are not allowed to sue for full salaries. The players are broken into different tiers with players, not on rookie contracts receiving most of the money.
The main part of the agreement is that if the season is canceled, the players will be receiving full-service time. Meaning players such as Mookie Betts will be able to enter free agency without playing a game. This also affects other top players such as J.T. Realmuto, Marcus Semien, Trevor Bauer, Marcell Ozuna, and D.J. LeMahieu.
This would be devastating for the Dodgers because they went all in to trade for Betts. They sent promising young outfielder Alex Verdugo, as well as two other prospects for Betts and David Price. Now if the season is canceled, Betts can become a free agent and might never play a game for LA.
With the possibility of a shortened season, the league is looking at a 14 team playoff.
This is a ripple effect from the agreement. The league is looking at all options and if the league goes on into November and December, having the postseason in warmer weather might be the best option. MLB is also looking at having the postseason at neutral sites such as Spring Training stadiums.
Another ripple effect of the shortened season and the new agreement is that the league has the ability to now shorten the draft to five rounds and have the signing deadline no later than August 1. It was reported by Kiley McDaniel of ESPN that the draft has been moved from June to July. This decision has been met with outside criticism.
For now, this agreement is a step in the right direction as we wait for the virus to be contained so we can all be safe again.