A day after Major League Baseball informed the players that they planned to implement a schedule for 2020, the two sides hammered out the final details of just how they’re going to do it.
On Tuesday the Players’ Assn. announced that it had settled all issues with MLB and the players would report to training camp, more than three months after spring training was shut down in March.
Camps will open July 1 in advance of a 60-game season, scheduled to start on July 23 or 24. The regular season schedule is expected to be released within the next few days.
The final hurdle on Tuesday was agreeing to health and safety issues as the sport attempts to play through the coronavirus pandemic. Although the union and MLB announced there was an agreement, the details were not released as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Various media outlets obtained an operations manual of more than 100 pages and reported numerous potential changes to the game, everything from changes to extra innings and the designated hitter rule to prohibiting spitting and fighting.
The agreement would reportedly also allow any player who has a condition that would make him high-risk for complications from the coronavirus to opt out, while still collecting salary and service time. The deal reportedly also would apply to any player who lives with someone who is high risk, like a pregnant spouse. Mike Trout’s wife is due to have the couple’s first child in August.
It’s all part of the effort to play despite the COVID-19 pandemic still raging throughout the nation.
The Philadelphia Phillies announced on Tuesday that two more players and two more coaches had tested positive for the virus, bringing to 12 the number of infections within the organization.
All but one of the Phillies positive tests came surrounding their spring training facility in Clearwater, which led to all MLB teams closing their spring facilities.
Teams will now use their home ballparks for three weeks of preparation for a season that will look significantly different, even beyond the fact that most of the games will be played without fans.
There were multiple reports of MLB adopting the modified extra-inning rules used recently in the minor leagues and international play. If games are tied after nine innings, each extra inning would start with a runner at second base. The idea is to prevent marathon games that could lead to injuries or drain rosters at a time when players have a condensed schedule and a non-traditional spring training.
The designated hitter could also be used in all games, also to prevent injuries to pitchers. The National League would return to having pitchers hit in 2021, and the rules beyond that would be determined through the next round of collective bargaining.
The proposal also included rosters expanded to 30 first the first two weeks, then 28 for the next two weeks, before settling at 26. The extra players early would help teams manage when their starting pitchers weren’t stretched out as they would be after a normal spring training.
Clubs also would reportedly be allowed to keep a taxi squad of three extra players with them on the road, although those players would not receive major league salary or service time while they are inactive.
There would also be a special COVID-19 related roster status for players who tested positive or had symptoms, allowing them to be moved off the active roster for any number of days. The normal injured list would remain 10 days, for pitchers and position players.
The trading deadline would be moved back from July 31 to Aug. 31, which would allow just four weeks of regular season games for teams to benefit from any newly acquired players.
Although no schedule has yet been released, the season would consist of 60 games in 66 days.
Teams would play all of their games within their division and the corresponding division in the other league. Each team would reportedly play 40 games against its four divisional opponents, and 20 games against the five teams in the corresponding interleague division.
The playoff format would remain the same, with three division winners and two wild card teams qualifying from each league. The sides had discussed expanding the playoffs to eight teams from each league, but the players would have had to agree.