The will there/won’t there be a 2020 baseball season continued into the start the week. On Monday, Major League Baseball (MLB) owners approved a proposal for the resumption of play in 2020. Yet, even before the league and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) sat down to discuss the terms of the proposal, union chief Tony Clark expressed general opposition to the plan, arguing that tying pay to revenue effectively constitutes the imposition of a “salary cap.”
Team owners floated a revenue-sharing plan where teams would evenly split all revenue with the MLBPA in 2020, which presents the main obstacle in negotiations with the union, noted above. Owners also voted in favor of a universal designated hitter for the shortened, 82-game 2020 campaign.
A few other elements have already been agreed upon:
- The expansion from 10 to 14 postseason teams in 2020 by adding a Wildcard match-up in each league.
- A limited travel schedule wherein teams would only play opponents in their own division or teams in the same geographic area (e.g. the Rays would play only the other four AL East clubs and the five NL Central clubs during the regular season).
- A mid-June reboot for Spring Training.
- An early July return to regular-season play — around the July 4 weekend — contingent upon input from government officials and public health experts.
- The potential for fans to attend games in person at some point, potentially starting out with small crowds and gradually increasing the number of people allowed in stadiums.
Bob Nightengale (USA Today) also made mention of a possible facility share between close-proximity rivals in the event that one team’s state government regulations render play at its home stadium not feasible. Such clubs could also look into moving games to their spring site, though in some cases, that would seemingly run counter to the more stringent travel restrictions this proposal seeks to establish.
Yet, players, including Sean Doolittle of the Washington Nationals, voiced their concerns on Twitter over how the league would implement safety protocols, like testing and screening.
The league presented the proposal to the MLBPA on Tuesday, and it remains to be seen whether the two sides will be able to negotiate out their differences.
The players union has long fought against league efforts to impose a salary cap, of which the 50/50 revenue split portion of the proposal could be viewed as the imposition of. According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich (The Athletic, paid link), Clark accused the league of “trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they’ve failed to achieve in the past.” From Clark’s perspective, the focus shouldn’t be on salaries to much as “finding a way for us to get safely back on the field.”
Clark and the MLBPA continue to insist that the sides’ late-March agreement fully resolves the question of 2020 player salaries, which I wrote about last Wednesday.
— Yoshi Tsutsugo and Ji-Man Choi have been in their respective home countries since about late March. Both players continue to work out in preparation for the Major League season (as exemplified on Choi’s Instagram account). As it relates to Tsutsugo, the newest Ray has been involved in various workout, hitting, and throwing routines.
When will they be able to return to North America? Nothing will be determined until a plan to launch the 2020 season is approved. Travel restrictions between the two Asian countries (South Korea and Japan) and the United States could also pose problems, as both players could face a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine upon arriving in America regardless if they are symptomatic or not.