It’s make-or-break time for MLB and the MLBPA on forging a path to baseball in 2020. With some significant negotiations looming this week, ESPN’s Jeff Passan runs through some of the biggest questions facing the league. The battle between players and owners is rife with potential roadblocks, and it’s not just the conditions of 2020 that are at stake. With the CBA renegotiation still in the (what-now-feels-like distant) future, both sides are aware of the impact any concession can make to the bigger picture. The way this week’s negotiations are handled could reveal the potential the two sides have of forging an effective working relationship moving forward. One would think now would be an ideal time for opposing sides to come together, and yet it’s just not as simple as that when billions of dollars are at stake. There are countless people and opinions to take into account on both sides of the aisle. While we await a loaded week of negotiations, let’s check in on how teams are handling their non-player-and-coach employees…
- Teams are taking a variety of approaches when it comes to their employees in the wake of COVID-19, but the Angels have come under fire for taking a more drastic approach than most, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The Angels will be furloughing employees from nearly every department, including, in the words of Rosenthal, “weakening its amateur scouting department heading into the draft.” The optics aren’t great here for the large-market Angels, especially when clubs like the Brewers, Giants, and Phillies have made commitments to retaining their staff at least through October. The Blue Jays also recently made the decision to keep employees’ on their full-time salaries through October 1, tweets John Lott, a frequent contributor to The Athletic. The Brewers have been the most aggressively pro-employee, per Rosenthal, committing to keeping their staff on through the entirety of the baseball season. The pro-employee approach is laudable, though not necessarily all that shocking coming out of Milwaukee. The Brewers have increasingly stepped into the spotlight in recent years as a progressive organization, from the supportive atmosphere provided players to making special efforts to get Milwaukee residents in to see games to their very team-building approach. The Angels, meanwhile, might find tough sledding ahead when it comes to signing undrafted amateur players. Without their typical scouting infrastructure in place, those relationships will be harder to build in an open market, and it’s possible the decisions being made by ownership today will have far-reaching consequences for the organization’s future.
- The Rays, meanwhile, are readying to return to the field. Camp will re-open on Monday for a small collection of 15 to 20 players, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Those players involved will still be keeping a separation of six feet from other players, and workouts will be limited. Still, it’s a positive sign to see players start to congregate again around a playing field. It’s also, no doubt, a risky proposition, but so long as safety precautions are followed and we don’t see a breakout of cases among these players, these workouts could be a harbinger of more baseball to come.
- Baseball is back already in some places of the world, of course. The KBO is about 17 games into their 2020 season, and they’re about to get a lot more popular. A new deal was announced for ESPN to become the English-language home of KBO games set to broadcast around the world, per ESPN’s Santa Brito. Play-by-play announcers will continue to provide commentary while social distancing. ESPN will soon be broadcasting KBO games “throughout Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean (including the Dominican Republic), Europe, Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia.”