Major League Baseball’s latest proposal for the 2020 campaign hasn’t been met with open arms by the players. As the two sides continue to butt heads over the financial aspects of the 2020 season, there are also considerable health and safety guidelines that need to be negotiated.
This morning’s proposal, according to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), would require players to sign an “acknowledgement of risk” waiver, which gives many in the union pause. Players are wary that upon signing such a waiver, they’d be unable to take any action should they feel the league provided an unsafe work environment.
Another potential hurdle to clear is that the league does not appear inclined to compensate players who opt out over concerns regarding the health of family members in either salary or service time. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that immunocompromised players — e.g. Carlos Carrasco, who missed much of 2019 while battling leukemia — could opt not to play but still receive both service time and salary. (Per Jeff Passan of ESPN.com, via Twitter, the league would define high-risk individuals as those who “may be more likely to suffer severe illness as a result of COVID-19 than others. … Individuals who, by virtue of their age or medical history, are at a materially higher risk … of complications.”
Players who aren’t willing to play due to similar concerns regarding a spouse, child, parent, etc., however, are viewed differently. Heyman indicates that the union is at least seeking service time for those players that opt not to play for reasons other than their own added susceptibility to coronavirus complications.
Perhaps most concerning, though, is the lack of communication between the league, the 30 clubs themselves and the local governing bodies that are overseeing broader efforts to deal with the public health threat posed by the coronavirus. Bradford William Davis of the New York Daily News reports that few of the relevant local authorities have been meaningfully engaged on plans.
It’s a bit surprising that some of these boxes have evidently not been checked at this point, several months into the COVID-19 crisis. Perhaps the league and its member teams feel they won’t have trouble smoothing over any issues on the public health front once they’ve got an agreement with the players. And while there could still be stumbling blocks in the collective bargaining negotiations over health and wellness, there’s also reason to think the sides can come together. Indeed, Andy Martino of SNY.tv tweets that the general issue still isn’t expected to pose any significant roadblock.