Major League Baseball and the players’ union met yesterday to engage on a possible restart to the pandemic-paused 2020 season. While the talk in the run-up to the sit-down surrounded economic disputes, the sides seem to have started the conversation in less contentious realms.
Yesterday’s chatter involved matters that might seem mundane, but which matter quite a bit to the hot stove. Roster and transaction rules were on the table, as was with the plan for a second Spring Training, per ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers.
Also under discussion was the complicated matter of health and safety, though it sounds as if there’s much more to come on that score. The league is preparing a lengthy presentation on all sorts of measures and protocols for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link).
It sounds as if the approach is to lay some groundwork before moving on to the owners’ desire to further pare back payroll. Yesterday’s meeting did not include any discussion of player earnings, per Rogers.
Players have already agreed to a game-for-game reduction in salaries. With something like a half-season on the table, they stand to sacrifice about half of their anticipated annual earnings even without taking further cuts. But MLB is reportedly angling to limit salaries to 50% of certain league revenues — it’s not clear what would be included — in order to boost team balance sheets.
If that’s the final and most difficult question to be answered, it’s not the most important. Finding a path to play that’s responsible to participants as well as the general public remains the primary challenge. The league has obviously done a lot of groundwork; Rosenthal adds that several agents have arranged briefings for players from disease experts.