UPDATED with details about season: Beat the drum and hold the phone — the sun came out today. Nearly three months after Opening Day was canceled amod the burgeoning coronavirus outbreak, Major League Baseball and its players union have agreed to play a truncated 60-game regular season starting in late July.
The sides finally sorted out their differences after the pandemic sidelined the season that was to begin in March and has kept America’s pastime off the field since. Training camps are set to open by July 1 with real games beginning sometime around July 23 or 24.
The league has imposed a September 27 cutoff for the regular season in order to have a legitimate postseason, featuring the usual 10 teams.
The regular-season schedule would include 10 games for each team against its four divisional opponents, along with 20 games against the opposite league’s corresponding geographical division — meaning the AL East will play the NL East, etc). Read more new rules below.
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement late Tuesday. “We have provided the Players Association with a schedule to play 60 games and are excited to provide our great fans with baseball again soon.”
The long and often contentious negotiations between the league and the players union had hit some snags in recent weeks, but the final details were hammered out today.
“All remaining issues have been resolved and Players are reporting to training camps,” the Major League Baseball Players Association tweeted this evening.
The deal comes the day after MLB owners voted to go ahead with a 60-game season to start in late July. They then asked the MLBPA whether players would agree to open camps by July 1 and agree to health and safety protocols that had helped keep the sides apart.
As most baseball fans know, the league and its powerful players union often have been at odds over money — see 1971, 1981, 1985 and the Lost Season of 1994, and this negotiation was no different. ESPN reports that players will receive the full prorated share of their salaries — about 37% of their full-season salaries and roughly $1.5 billion total.
But the agreement comes as coronavirus cases continue to increase in nearly of America’s states including Arizona and Florida, where training camps traditionally have been held. This year, however, “spring training” will be held in the clubs’ home ballparks.
Back in mid-April, as MLB was struggling to come up with a plan to save its 2020 season, the league agreed to take part in a massive study to test as many as 10,000 people for coronavirus antibodies. At the time, the owners were looking at the possibility of playing all of its games in Arizona without fans — but now that state is among the country’s worst hotspots of COVID-19 infections.
Major League Baseball joins the NBA and the NHL in looking to resume their interrupted seasons in July. For now, the NFL is eyeing the usual early-September start date for its regular season.
Here are more details about rules for the 2020 Major League Baseball season as reported by MLB.com executive writer Mark Feinsand:
Pitchers and catchers will report first, followed by position players. Teams will be allowed to invite 60 players to big league camp, with only those players eligible to play during the season. Each team’s 60-man list must be submitted by Sunday afternoon. Teams will have the ability to send up to 20 players who are not on the 40-man roster to an alternate site.
The designated-hitter rule will be used in both leagues in 2020, part of the league’s health and safety protocols for this season.
• Teams will open the season with a 30-man active roster; it will be reduced to 28 players after two weeks, then to 26 after four weeks.
• The Trade Deadline will be Aug. 31.
• To be eligible for the postseason, a player must be added to the Major League roster by Sept. 15.
• Teams will be permitted to carry up to three taxi-squad players on the road during the season, though if a team carries three such players, one must be a catcher.
• During extra-inning games in the regular season, each half-inning will begin with a runner on second base. The batter who made the final out in the previous inning (or a pinch-runner for that batter) would be that runner.
• There will be a 10-day injured list for both pitchers and hitters, though the 60-day IL will be reduced to a 45-day IL.
• There will be a separate IL for players who either test positive or have symptoms/confirmed exposure to COVID-19. There is no maximum or minimum days for this IL.
• MLB’s transaction freeze, which has been in place since the season was suspended, will end on Friday at 12 p.m. ET.
• In addition to COVID-19 testing every other day, some other health precautions are as follows: Team personnel and players not likely to participate in the game (for example, the next day’s starting pitcher) will be sitting in the stands or another area designated by the club, at least six feet apart; non-playing personnel will wear masks in dugout and bullpen at all times; no spitting or chewing tobacco (gum is permitted); no celebratory contact (high-fives, fist bumps, hugs, etc.).
Players will be paid a full prorated portion of their 2020 salary based on games played, which will equal approximately 37 percent for the full season.
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