We just wrapped up a series of posts regarding potential extension candidates, with part of the premise being that the ongoing MLB pause could afford opportunities for negotiations. But that won’t be possible under the terms of the Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter.
It turns out that contract talks between teams and their own players will not be permitted while MLB rosters are frozen. Once a second Spring Training resumes, then further negotiations can take place.
In theory, there’s no impact to the likelihood of deals being struck. But in practice, this could make quite a difference. Added time and space without other business on the calendar might’ve helped. Perhaps the uncertainty of the global pandemic would’ve made some players more inclined to seek the safety of guaranteed salary — a factor that may have led the union to agree that talks shouldn’t be allowed.
Now that teams are precluded from further exploring deals, it may actually make it tougher to move past the finish line in situations where talks had already advanced during spring camp. After all, there will be myriad complex matters to sort out and innumerable distractions once the go-ahead is finally given for a ramp-up to the season. And there’ll be ample uncertainty of different kinds, creating a potential wrench for any talks.
Indication was, prior to the shutdown, that quite a few younger players had been targeted. But at this point, it’s tough to guess how many deals will end up being made.
It’s worth noting also that, per Nightengale, optional assignments can still occur until Saturday. In concert with yesterday’s flurry of options, it’s worth wondering just what the impact is. That will presumably be answered once the full details of the coronavirus adjustment agreement are known.
Generally, a player injured while on optional assignment will not earn service time while he is sidelined; whether that would have an impact in this case isn’t entirely clear. Likewise, the modifications to the collective bargaining agreement provide different payments to different classes of players, though it isn’t quite evident whether a late-breaking decision to option a player would change his earnings in the event the season isn’t played.