As Major League Baseball readies a proposal for the Players Association regarding the resumption of play, ESPN’s Jeff Passan highlights some of the additional hurdles to clear. Notably, Passan indicates that some players have inquired with the union about what would happen if they opted not to play in 2020 due to fear regarding their own health or their desire to remain with family amid a global health crisis.
Both are understandable concerns; there are, after all, numerous players in Major League Baseball with underlying medical conditions that make them higher-risk cases. Players with diabetes or asthma and those who’ve overcome battles with cancer, for instance, could have reservations about returning to play — just as players who have higher-risk family members will also have increased trepidation. Nationals lefty Sean Doolittle spoke with The Athletic’s Jayson Stark this week about his wife’s acute asthma, which has in the past “flared up and manifested as pneumonia,” resulting in hospitalization. (To be clear, there’s no indication that Doolittle has inquired about opting not to play in 2020, but his case nonetheless stands out as a salient example of concerns that numerous players throughout the league surely harbor.)
There’s also, of course, the matter of economics. It’s been well documented at this point that the league’s owners will push for further reduction in player salary now that it’s clear fans won’t be in attendance for at least the early portion of the season (quite likely longer than that). Negotiations on that front had not formally begun as of yesterday, Newsday’s David Lennon reports. Presumably, the league’s plan with regard to player salary will be included in whatever proposal is produced, but as Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote last night, it’s unlikely that the MLBPA will simply agree to whatever scale is initially suggested.
As for what the game itself could look like, Passan writes that some executives believe active rosters could carry as many as 30 players, while teams will more broadly have a pool of about 50 players apiece available to them. The specifics of such an arrangement would need to be ironed out. Still, some type of unique setup figures to be a necessity, given the unlikelihood of a standard minor league structure being in place for the 2020 season.
The looming question of how to proceed if a player or players test positive remains an unaddressed elephant in the room. Doolittle touched on the topic in his interview with Stark, noting the rapid manner in which any disease typically spreads through a big league clubhouse. “…[W]e’re in such close proximity, it’s impossible to enforce social distancing measures in a clubhouse when you’re trying to play a Major League Baseball season and prepare for games,” the veteran lefty said. Expanded active rosters would only further crowd things beyond the norm.
Obstacles notwithstanding, Doolittle and seemingly everyone else in the game is hopeful of reaching some type of agreement. Teams have indeed “encouraged” players to prep for a June training camp of sorts, Passan writes, though no specific dates are in place. And via Lennon, Yankees president Randy Levine said in a radio appearance on 1010 WINS that he believes the league is “moving closer to finalizing a plan” in spite of the murky economic picture:
The economics are really important, but we have to deal with the reality of the economics. Obviously, television isn’t the whole ballgame as far as the financial economics of the game. Sometimes you’ve got to play the games, play ball, and there are more important things than economics.
Whatever arrangement is proposed or agreed upon, it’s crucial to remember that it’ll be largely tentative in nature. The public health landscape is rapidly changing, and little can be set in stone so far in advance. Many fans have grown weary of conditional updates and the lack of a clear plan to proceed, but any decisions made will continue to be subject to abrupt change. That sentiment is surely at the root of the league’s recent pushback against the June 10 Spring Training and July 1 opener dates that Trevor Plouffe relayed on Twitter after hearing from friends on active rosters. As the league plans for a best-case scenario, it’s also keenly aware that the actuality could (or more likely will) look different from its optimistic outline.
I don’t mean any disrespect to MLBTR, but this is a non-update. It’s the same spot we’ve been in: everyone’s hopeful, but the owners want players to take less money and they haven’t started really hammering that issue out yet. Let’s hear when there’s some real movement on these issues.
I beg to differ. It provides insight concerning some players inquiring upon an opt-to play clause, or something to that affect. It speaks to the possible size of the rosters and that there is dialogue concerning the July 1st tentative start date.
The giant question still not answered is:
What kinda salary reduction are we talking about? A stout 30% on everything over 10MM per season or something more modest that still guarantees their money but maybe paid out in installments in subsequent years, that’s gonna be the biggest hurdle.
I’m aware that this update lacks hard, major needle-moving items. At the same time, I do find it notable that there are now players who have inquired with the union about their unease with a return. That much had been primarily speculative in the past. Quotes from Doolittle and Levine representing both sides of the negotiations are of some note as well.
We’re fully aware that updating on such minutia isn’t for everyone. I attempted to address as much in the final paragraph; a lot of fans simply want to hear when there’s a plan and leave all the small measures to the side.
At the same time, whenever we don’t cover even smaller-scale updates, we’ll also receive emails and/or tweets asking why these things weren’t presented on MLBTR. It cuts both ways.
It’s also the case that not everyone reads us daily or even every few days. Some don’t want to mine back through all of the content to see where things stood a few days ago — particularly if that information may be outdated.
I get your frustration, and it’s not lost on us that some of these updates are going to be small or even inconsequential for many readers — particularly our avid commenters. We try to minimize that, but certainly surrounding the very existence of the league in 2020, we’ll tend to err on the side of more coverage than less.
Apologies on the lengthy reply, but I do want to let you know that your feedback is heard and is something we actively consider — even beyond the scope of this particular post.
We appreciate all your hard work, Steve!
Thanks Steve! Nobody is forcing anyone to read anything, so the people who don’t want “non-updates” should simply not read it. There are plenty of us who appreciate it and do want the updates, however small they may be!
I agree with the two posts above, keep up the good work!!
stan lee the manly
To be fair, this is kinda backward-thinking. How can you know it’s a non-update unless you read the update?
eeL natS sknahT
Thanks Steve! Great job from MLBTR on this issue
(and all others).
You guys post what you think is important, if people don’t want to read it it’s their choice.
Yes Steve. Thanks for the update. l presume and think it would be fair that there will likely be a provision in the agreement for 2020, if in fact there is a 2020 season, for any player to opt out of the 2020 season without penalty. For that player it could be as if 2020 never happened and their contract for 2020 in essence gets kicked forward to 2021. l also think rosters will definitely be expanded and no fans will attend a game. Players, umpires and staff can wear respirators. The radar strike zone can be implemented and 2 new umpires can be added. 1 in each teams replay room to get close plays automatically reviewed and to monitor inappropriate sting stealing.
First time I heard or thought about players mating wanting to sit out. New info is there it’s a solid update
The white knights here are worse than Reddit
Yay, another article that will bring us all together in joyous harmony. Looking forward to it…
Nobody cares what Doolittle thinks .. ever
A little cold. It’s not his opinion on a rule change or something; he’s concerned about his wife’s health. It’s valid, whatever else you may think of him.
People: no! don’t go outside you’ll put others at risk!
Also people: IDGAF about your wife Doolittle. Suit up and play!
Going to crush your worldview. He doesn’t give two $#!/s about what you think of him if he decides to play or not. Won’t lose any sleep.
I can’t say i would probably have done what Doolittle did in the situation you are referencing, but i feel he has more validation then most guys who skip their trips do.
I wanna see the same baseball used last year so we’ll be treated with some long ball upon resuming play.
PLAY BALL…! Start Training now, boys! Despite the haters asserting America should close for years and all rent/mortgages should be cancelled, AMERICA and more importantly BASEBALL is BACK, baby!
Grab a sack of balls and bat, time to shag some balls in the sun! WHOOOO!
Closed for years? No one has suggested America close for
Rent / Mortgage relief ? People aren’t working . Some don’t have money for food
Any sheltering that’s been initiated has been based on an effort to avoid an implosion of the Countries medical infrastructure. That’s it. Sheltering is not a cure. There is no cure. There is no vaccine and there is no treatment.
Once people stop sheltering, the infection rate and the subsequent DEATH rate will go up and probably accelerate creating alarming ‘doubling rates’
This is bad
I love baseball. I’m infatuated with it. I’m also the proud father of an NCAA division 1 baseball player.
However, we are currently facing the biggest global crisis since WW2 . A deadly disease that spreads like wildfire. A disease for which there is NO CURE
This is about Saving lives. Period.
Righty: Henny Penny and the Big Bad Wolf was a story….just a story. The sky was not literally falling. Please wake up.
2,401 US citizens died yesterday as a result of Covid-19
The total DEATH count is 74,118
I’m not sure what is wrong with you. My farther used to say ‘when you get older , one day you’re gonna wake up and realize you’re surrounded by idiots’
I miss my Dad
How many of those deaths were falsified by the states medical teams? Because states are doing that now (a google search will provide you with articles, particularly Vermont)
and about 650,000 american’s die each year from heart disease, but, that’s not pandemic worthy.
I’m no doctor and obviously neither are you but I’m not sure if heart disease is contagious. Are you really that ignorant?
Yes, he’s that ignorant.
Julio Franco's Birth Certificate
Stop. Just stop. I suggest you read about the 1957 flu pandemic. Or the 1968/1969 Hong Kong Flu pandemic.
Which killed more Americans and people worldwide. Flattening the curve and everyone doing their part to watch out for each other is a noble goal and what we should do – basically be nice to each other and take all REASONABLE precautions.
But these people who scream doom, with actually no facts to back that up and decide to throw 35 million people out of work are 1000x more dangerous than the virus. FACT. Harsh, but a fact.
This is about saving lives l agree. That’s why Sweden has the right model. Herd immunity. No cure, no treatment, no way to stop it. Killing the economy will kill more people than the virus. Let’s reopen and take precautions but its inevitable we all get this eventamually. What they have found is that the loss of the ability to fully absorb oxygen is what kills a higher % of those infected. There are lung development exercises they do for PT on those that get COVID in the lungs. Most likely we can show people how to develop their lungs before they get COVID and hopefully develop better treatments to get the CO2 out of our lungs and body and the Oxygen into it.
Thanks, doc, you just solved all of our problems!
We don’t know if Sweden has the right model. Nobody does, not even Some Guy on the Internet. What we do know is that Sweden has one of the highest mortality rates in the world, and that’s with a coordinated national approach and a medical system that covers everyone. We don’t have either.
Sweden’s approach may work long term, limiting second and third waves of the virus. Short term they’re currently top 10 in covid deaths per capita. They are a unified country with a first rate health care system. The U.S is not those things. Herd immunity would have moved the U.S. from bad to worse.
Also, life is not proceeding as normal there. People are self isolating. People work at hme in much higher #’s. Most gathering and mass travel are prohibited. Schools have been closed and the conomy has suffered.
You don’t need to tell Swedes to socially distance. It’s part of the culture.
Last I heard the schools were still open in Sweden.
Sorry if my comment read as all schools shut.. Some have closed.
@agentp Make sure to watch Fox news while you sip your Lysol cocktail ,And if you get bored ,Just go outside and plant a big fat wet kiss on the first person you see wearing a MAGA cap
I don’t understand why, in the course of defending the intelligence of these stay at home orders against those who ignorantly downplay the severity of this situation you must (like so many others) resort to unnecessary conservative bashing and anti-Trumpist nonsense. I get that many of the idiots protesting against these precautions come from a certain side of the political aisle but I’m a conservative who understands the need to stay at home so why throw dirt on my beliefs as a side effect to this “debate”? Let’s stick to the issue and avoid being unnecessarily divisive. The snark level in this society is getting out of control.
Dancing in the streets!
i’drather have a game where players get on bases, steal some and drive them in with singles and doubles. and occasional home runs, too!
I gotta say, watching older classic games some of the networks are playing makes me remember how much more I enjoyed the style of play then as compared to now. Twenty years has brought about enormous changes in the style of play (I saw a BUNT the other day!!!) and how players are used.
I do love baseball and I’ll watch when it returns, but I loved the game a whole lot more then than I do now.
amen to that!
If the games are played in Arizona, you will see about the same uptick in home runs regardless of wether or not the ball is “juiced”.
I may be wrong, but I strongly doubt that spring training facilities have an abundance humidors to store their balls in.
A dried out baseball travels farther when hit, the thin desert air as well as the ball being dry decreases break as well. Balls will be flying out of the park in Arizona like they used to at Chase (before the humidor) and Coors.
Dear Rob Manfred, when you know EXACTLY what the plan is to start the season, please tell us. Otherwise, just keep quiet.
Hey dummy none of this is from Manfred.
There is nothing from Manfred! That’s the point.
you know he isnt the only factor here, right? its not his choice at all really. its the owners (via him) and the MLBPA
In before Strike Four rages out in the comment section
Hahaha! Thanks I needed a good chuckle. But I’ll probably be called some derogatory name from him by admitting that I laughed.
You’re evil and you want everyone to die!!!
My best Strike Four impression 😉
as accurate as such an impression could get
There are many hurdles to overcome with a deadly virus that continues to mutate with a more potent strain than the one that originated in China. There is no end game on the horizon until a vaccine can be formulated which is unlikely any time soon. There is also no evidence that any of us our immune to this virus even after contracting and recovering from it.
Good thing the antibody studies from Europe and all over America have definitively proved the IFR is between .1 and .6%. And the WHO, the big brains whose IFR calculation is the equivalent of 2nd grade division (positives/deaths), doesn’t seem to understand absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
i hate my father
Thanks Dr. Doom,
We are all going to eventually die from this virus. Got it!
I said nothing of the sort. Just stating some concerning news to temper the apparent rush by some of a return to normalcy which cannot happen until this virus is defeated. I also have a wife and daughter who are health care professionals that are dealing with this pandemic first hand in the fifth most affected county in the nation.
No- you cherry-picked two of the millions of news stories that exist to fulfill your preferred narrative..
Not that you understand or provide any analysis of said news stories.
For the record, I’m in favor of reopening the economy, including the industry of professional sports, in the phases suggested by our Governor in Illinois (https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20200505/pritzker-outlines-regional-reopening-as-state-records-176-new-covid-19-deaths?fbclid=IwAR035nvx6jBpDpIwv-ZYuBjfmDIhH5AwFgLiWsnqAhGBtsoaXeRmfd7zaFA) and many others who rely more on medical and scientific opinion than a President who seems more concerned about getting re-elected and pandering to business interests with less regard to the well being of America’s citizens.
@Aaron, your wife and daughter are frontline heros. I am grateful, as all should be, that they are so committed and working for so many others. May they each, and you and family stay healthy!
Well said. Clearly, In an election year , Covid-19 is a huge inconvenience for POTUS
He just wishes it would Go away. Subsequently, he will spend most of his energy trying to convince the American public that it has.
I mean, in an election year , Who wants testing data when the true infection rate is projected to be 19-20 times the current tally. Thats a bad look for a president that ignored intel and dismissively waved his hand at experts back in February.
The death count. That’s a terrible Look. No one is going to elect a president who’s judgment /decision making or lack there of cost a few hundred thousand American lives. No way.
He will feverishly look for any possible way to discredit the Death toll numbers
He’s a madman
I’ve been saying all along the agreement on pay is a huge hurdle. The owners will want to cut pay in correlation with their revenue drop, the union should want to see the books to verify how much revenue the teams project to lose.
Do you really think the owners want to open the books now, as they head into a new round of CBA bargaining?
I am someone who believes that your word matters, and if a player makes $5m, and they play 81 games, they should get $2.5m. No one forced the owners to make that agreement. That said, the owners should not have to show the books. Why? 1: That would be unfair giving the Union the advantage In the next collective bargaining negotiations. Think about it: Even when the union won the collusion case they were not forced to do that for that reason. 2: If that is done then Government can but it’s nose into this and the last thing we need is that
nba is doing it!
I’m also a big believer in sticking to your word. But if a big reason Arte can afford to pay Mike Trout $34 million this year is because he expects to sell 3 million tickets and all of the parking, concessions, etc that comes with it, the sides should try to work together.
In my industry we get paid a split of the revenue, so maybe I’m looking at this through a different lens than most. But I fully understand it is hard to pay an employee his normal game salary if the owners are making 60% of their normal game revenue.
This article gets to a key issue that has been discussed far too little up to this point. The issue is, a person who chooses to accept the risk of contracting the virus for reasons of their own is not making that choice only for themselves, but also for others who have made different choices for reasons of their own. The difficulty of protecting the most vulnerable from the less vulnerable is going to be one of the most significant barriers to returning to a pre-virus world. Maybe this critical discussion will start with baseball since the players seem to have honed in on it well ahead of the general population.
Well said BlueSkyLA. Kudos .
I thank you for addressing this, and agree with you completely. It’s easy to forget that besides being incredible athletes and heroes to many, these guys are humans with families and real world concerns. I wonder if they will negotiate some sort of resolution into any agreement in regards to players who opt out of the season, and if so, what the resolution would be. Penalties? Compromise?
Man, the more you think on it, the more the “hidden issues” rear their ugly heads.
Not sure why this issue is so hidden when it’s the big huge grey thing in the middle of the room staring all of us right in the face. All I know is we can’t get the “open now!” people to even acknowledge its existence. Reality is such a pain in the neck. Why do we even need it?
One I’ve been wondering about in regards to the KBO (and I actually hope I never have to get an answer to this)…
They have said if a player tested positive, they will close down the stadium where that player played for 48 hours for deep cleaning. Multiple questions here… How do they make up the games, if they indeed do? If so, where? Do they quarantine the player? The entire team? Both teams involved in the game? If so, how are THOSE games made up?
The same questions would have to be addressed in MLB (or any league), I would guess. I certainly hope for a perfect world where this will never come to fruition, but I’m skeptical of those chances.
100%. There’s no blanket right answer to this. There are people at higher and lower risk, areas that are likely past the worst of it and others that are just starting to get hit. On top of that there’s only a couple of months of decent data science can use.
I don’t know the answer, but any path we take will have pitfalls.
This article is mostly speculation. But I think if a player opts out not to play, the player doesn’t get paid or hazard pay and the contract continues into next year, even if a FA.
There are multiple players with pregnant wives/recently had kids. If Verlander, Cole, Kris Bryant(?) don’t want to leave their wives then that’s fair, but just bring it back already.
trust me……crying baby around he house……these players are ready to leap out of the door !
i think this hurdle is overplayed. i dont think guys should be cut off, but they can probably see their kids relatively frequently and still stay safe. it’s something that must be worked out, but i imagine it can be worked out in time as long as testing is available for these guys.
Union and Owners agreeing to play is one thing…..but trying to get the Politicians to let games play in cities is another……..Governors, Mayors. city council all want to be part of the plan and have the final say of when the games are played.!
id imagine that’s all being negotiated already. i think it kills the stadium plan, but i think a multi-state plan can still work.
Can’t go to work more then 10 people. ………. Can’t go out to eat more then 10 people. Hotels Casinos closed but you can open a baseball stadium and have a dugout of 24 guys in it. a$$ backwards
Just like a four chair haircut business can’t be open but we can have Walmart open with three hundred people in it?
Right! Doesn’t everybody have their hair cut by a very large chimpanzee?
No issues at all with these updates and I appreciate them.
However, and not to be a killjoy here, I just think MLB needs to look seriously at packing it in this year. They could redirect all their time and effort toward working with the MLBPA about making 2021 and beyond as good as can be.
2020 is a lost cause for baseball, IMHO. Don’t fight against it, MLB — use the time to improve your product long-term.
there is no reason they cant think about both 2020 and 2021 at the same time.
True. There’s also no reason they HAVE to play this year.
Not for nothing but if you arent working( playing baseball) then why are they getting paid at all?? What did i miss here
Good union. Guaranteed contracts.
When do the trades start ?
How many Managers & Coaches over 65 in the league ?….those guys can get sick first !
Many teams will need to trade for DH’s before the season starts.
I heard 30 players in the dugout !…….plus coaches…..trainers…..
how many EMT’s will be standing by ?
So definitely safer than going grocery shopping. Sounds reasonable.
If a player spits on the field….will he get tossed ?
I was watching the KBO games, the first game everyone has aware, they gave elbows instead of high fives, I saw some thumbs up. The second game I saw some high fives and spitting, there are no penalties
Depends. Is it chew?
Can you imagine if certain players opt not to play? If Mike Trout stays home the Angels have no shot, the rest of his team are out their risking their health with no chance to win. If Blake Snell decides to stay home to play video games what are the Ray’s chances?
If players are allowed to opt out it changes the whole dynamic of the sport
The NHL and NBA have played the majority of their seasons already, if they come back and some of their top players decide to stay home….this is kinda a big deal
Dude the Angels don’t have a shot with Trout.
It is relevant that no one in baseball, even those like Sean Doolittle who have expressed reservations about resuming play, have come out for cancellation of the season. Veterans at his pay level and above can do without all but a small fraction of the season’s salary, but there are those who would be substantially hurt, such as players who have not gotten to arbitration and even more the support personnel who MLB is not going to carry for a whole season.
More relevant to Sean and especially his wife, while asthma was originally thought to be a risk or aggravating factor for COVID and CDC still has it as such, research over the past month seems to show it is not; see https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/86323
Just playing devil’s advocate, but if somebody’s work reopens and the employee refuses to go back do they still have a job?
They do if they have a contract and are part of a union.
Regular non-baseball Joe’s can be fired.
Depends on the state and, if applicable, union status of the employee. States are attempting to pass laws that would kick anyone currently furloughed off unemployment if the state eases lockdowns and the citizn refuses to go back to work. Those same states are attempting to pass legislation freeing themselves and the employers from liability, if that person returns to work and catches Covid-19.
What if someone gets the virus associated with the teams and sues everyone in sight? There will have to be a legal liability law passed by the US to protect all businesses when they reopen.
Here’s one possible scenario:
Players are allowed to opt out of playing, however, they will not be paid or collect service time. The player will be allowed to return at any time, but would have to be activated by a certain date in order to be eligible for the playoffs
Congrats you guys kept it civil for about 5 mins today !
Just long enough to thank Mr Adams for the free daily fight club they provide for you every day
Stop comparing Covid to not-highly contagious illnesses, like heart disease or auto accidents or gun deaths.
Understand “only” 75,000 are dead due to medical advancements AND social distancing.
Lockdowns are why 250,000 people have died in 3 months worldwide, instead of 3 million.
Stop claiming feelings and opinions are facts. It costs lives from the pandemic and the selfishness that culminates in shootings over having to wear masks and closed restaurant dining areas
A big to-do was made when the number of virus fatalities exceeded the casualties in the Vietnam War. I have no idea why anyone thinks these comparisons are at all helpful in understanding the scope and scale of these events. Other than the obvious dissimilarities, that war lasted for more than ten years and this pandemic has been with us for a matter of just a few months. What is really going on here is those who are saying the virus is no big deal are essentially taking credit for the mitigation measures that have prevented hundreds of thousands of deaths, while at the same time claiming that those measures were never necessary. I don’t know how anyone can cram those two contradictory ideas into their brains at the same time, but we’re hearing it a lot, so apparently it is possible.