Members of the Yankees and Mets that are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are not eligible to play baseball in New York City, per a report from Stefan Bondy and Dennis Young of the New York Daily News. As noted in the piece, the Yankees and Mets will be affected by the city’s private employer mandate in the same way as Kyrie Irving, whose unvaccinated status has left him ineligible to play home games for the Brooklyn Nets or games hosted by the New York Knicks. (For separate reasons, Irving is also ineligible to cross the Canadian border to play the Toronto Raptors.)
A New York City Hall spokesperson tells the reporters that, although the mandates could change along with the reality of the pandemic, there will not be special exemptions given out to the teams.
This could potentially have significant on-field ramifications for both clubs. As noted in the piece, it is believed that each club has, or perhaps had, some key members still not having received a vaccine. If any of them decide to follow in Irving’s footsteps and refuse to get the necessary shots, they could find themselves sitting out half of their team’s games, or more, when Toronto-based games are factored in.
The Yankees released comment to various reporters, including Lindsey Adler of The Athletic, which reads, “On behalf of the Yankees, [team president] Randy Levine is working with City Hall and all other appropriate officials on this matter. We will have no further comment.” Adler also relays a quote from Aaron Judge, who is rumored to be unvaccinated, on the matter:
“I’m so focused on getting to the first game of spring training. So I think we’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. Right now, so many things could change. So I’m not really too worried about that right now.”
It was recently reported that the new CBA contained a detail that players who miss games in Toronto because of vaccination status will not be paid nor receive service time for those games. Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports that the same would apply here. It’s perhaps worth noting that Judge currently has five years and 51 days of MLB service time, meaning he needs 121 more days to reach six years and hit free agency. If he were to miss more than half the 186-day season for vaccine reasons and not accrue service time, he would come up short, thus delaying his free agency by another year.
Marly Rivera of ESPN adds some more information, (Twitter links) saying that this has been known for about 48 hours now, with the players’ union and team both working with the Mayor’s office. Both camps are confident the situation will be resolved before Opening Day. The Yankees are scheduled to play their first home game April 7th, while the Mets won’t be at home until April 15th.