The unfortunate reality is that we’re all but certain to see fewer Major League Baseball games than usual in 2020. That could have an effect on many different aspects, including players’ service time. That’s always a contentious issue, evidenced in part by Kris Bryant’s battle with the Cubs during the offseason, though it does seem the league and the players are coming together on the matter during this time of crisis.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link), MLB is going to grant a full year of service time to all players who remain active throughout the upcoming campaign, no matter how many games are played. That could obviously have an impact on teams’ decisions to promote their prospects if a 2020 season takes place, not to mention the effect on upcoming free-agent classes. It’s no doubt welcome news for someone like all-world Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, a contract-year player who needs 102 more days of service time to reach the open market. Considering the current circumstances, neither Betts nor anyone else may be in position to accrue 102 days this year.
In the event of a coronavirus-forced worst-case scenario that would rob us of baseball in 2020, how would the sport proceed with respect to service time? That’s unclear right now, per Rosenthal, who writes that the league and the players remain hopeful that “as many games as possible” will occur in 2020.
The sides continue to negotiate on various matters, reports Rosenthal, who adds that the union sent its latest proposal Tuesday. The United States is amid a national emergency, thus giving commissioner Rob Manfred the right to withhold players’ salaries. But the league’s not doing that as of now. Rather, it offered a lump-sum advance of over $150MM (more than $125K per 40-man roster player) during earlier talks with the union, Rosenthal relays. However, the parties are still trying to hammer out an agreement that works for the two of them.