The Major League Baseball ratified a 17-page agreement with the Players’ Association on Friday during the COVID-19 pandemic. The players have indicated that they are prepared to extend the season as long as necessary in order to have as complete a schedule as possible.
Even if that means neutral locations in hot cities or playing in domes. Even if it means playing in empty stadiums or taking part in several double programs.
And even if it means that 10 more teams should participate in the playoffs.
“Players want to play. That’s what we do for a living,” said Tony Clark, president of the Players’ Association. To be able to get back out there and play, even if it means fans have to watch from home, that’s what we want. And we want it as soon as possible. »
The agreement provides $170 million in advance of salaries, which total more than $4 billion, and guarantees service time to players even if no games are played this year. This means that Mookie Betts, George Springer, Marcus Stroman, Trevor Bauer and J.T. will all be paid for their time. Realmuto will still be able to test the standalone player market in the upcoming off-season.
The 2020 season was set to begin Thursday and game number seven of the World Series was scheduled for October 28, if necessary. While the opening game has been postponed to mid-May at the earliest, the final pitch could be held as Christmas trees begin to be installed in homes. Both parties discussed the possibility of extending the season in October and having the playoffs take place in November.
“We would play as much as we can. Obviously, the weather is becoming a challenge as we move forward in the schedule,” said Clark. We’d do everything we can to play as many games as we can no matter when we start. »
“It’s a year in which trying different options could be beneficial and that’s something that, in the context of a one-year trial, could be beneficial,” Clark admitted.
When the season can start is outside the purview of Major League Baseball and the association. If games are missed, players will receive prorated shares based on their salary.
“Each game must work in good faith as soon as possible to start, play and finish the season and playoffs, the agreement said. There must be no legal restrictions on gatherings and travel and the game must not pose an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of players, staff and spectators. »
Major League Baseball has agreed with the Players’ Association to use “every effort to play as many games as possible while taking into account the safety and health of the players, competition considerations, stadium availability and economic feasibility”.
Players would consider removing the rule that says they cannot play for more than 20 days in a row. It is still not known what the minimum number of games for this season would be.
It is also not known if the All-Star game, scheduled for July 14 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, will be played on July 14.
“Obviously, the schedule will dictate what’s doable and what’s not,” Clark concluded.