Major League Baseball is preparing a policy that will require all minor league players to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to the start of next season, Yahoo Sports’ Hannah Keyser reports. The news comes just a few weeks after the league’s requirement that all players participating in the Arizona Fall League be vaccinated.
Because minor leaguers aren’t part of the players union until they have actually played in the big leagues, MLB can issue mandates covering all of minor league baseball even though some players within the farm system have already made appearances in The Show and/or are on 40-man rosters. The league would need the MLB Players Association to agree to a vaccination policy to cover all union members and MLB players in 2022 and beyond, and it could be that the AFL and minor league edicts are the first steps towards stricter policies the Commissioner’s Office could be planning for the coming season.
Many players have already received the vaccine, of course, and 24 of the 30 teams have already had their in-season COVID-19 protocols relaxed since 85 percent of players, coaches, and medical staff were fully vaccinated. Getting any of the 30 teams to a 100 percent vaccination rate (or even the six holdout teams to an 85 percent rate) might not be possible, however, without MLB and the MLBPA signing off on a mandate covering all Major League personnel.