On Thursday, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed to a deal to cover the unprecedented situation of a pandemic-altered season. The MLB season was set to begin March 26, but due to the coronavirus outbreak the league has suspended operations for the last two weeks, with no resumption in sight.
The details of the deal are still coming out, and Bryan covered the key points that were revealed, including player compensation, service time in the event of a cancelled season, and the parameters of the MLB draft.
Many of the details depend on whether or not a season is played and, if so, when it would begin. On Friday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the deal includes parameters for what would need to happen before a season were to begin.
The players and league agreed the 2020 MLB season won't begin until:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 27, 2020
- There are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans*
- There are no travel restrictions
- Medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans
* 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.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 27, 2020
There are a few things to note here. Most important is the agreement that games will not resume until medical experts determine that there is no risk by returning to play.
That seems like a no-brainer, but you can be sure that many sports leagues would like to skirt that concept. The UFC, for example, is planning to go forward with their April 18 event (albeit without fans), and simply trying to find a location and venue that would sign off on it.
According to Passan, that won’t be the case for MLB. There will be no resumption of play when it is not responsible.
Also of note is the agreement to not play when there are bans of mass gatherings, but also the willingness to explore neutral sites and stadiums without fans. The caveat seems to contradict the initial point, but shows that the two sides are willing to explore options, as long as they are safe and responsible. It seems unlikely that baseball resumes without fans, but there is a plausible scenario in which one or two cities with severe coronavirus outbreaks remain on lockdown, while the rest of the country has restrictions lifted.
Passan also provided further reports on draft pick compensation, suspensions, and bonuses.
Further details on labor agreement between the players and MLB, which just made the deal official:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 27, 2020
- Draft picks get only $100K of their bonus in 2020, with half the remainder due July 1, 2021 and other half July 1, 2022
- Teams cannot trade draft picks or int'l slots
- MLB may run a combine for amateur players in 2020 and 2021— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 27, 2020
- The same bonus rules apply to 2021 draft
- Drug suspensions will be served in 2020, but if there is no season, they won't carry over to 2021
Here’s hoping we get baseball in 2020.