The fate of the 2020 MLB season could be decided in the next week, as MLB and MLBPA reps are negotiating player safety guidelines and could be reviewing the financial proposal presented by baseball owners as early as today. As both sides try to get this season started around July 4th.
The 67-page MLB proposal spans across multiple target issues that must be tackled before the season can start. Wide-spread testing, Social Distancing guidelines, and game protocols including the banning of spitting, high fives, and fist bumps. When on the road, players would be asked to stay in their rooms, and in all cases dress before they hit the ballpark while also giving up tools such as hydrotherapy. A response from the MLBPA was issued last night, focused on additional testing frequency, provisions for family members, and details on how a positive-testing player would be handled.
While talks are steadily progressing, it was ideal for the MLB to start with player safety, because the most challenging hurdle is up next: pay. MLB owners are expected to submit financial data to players to assuage fears that additional pay cuts would unfairly impact players. The MLBPA has already agreed to pay cuts in a deal first negotiated when the coronavirus pandemic closed play down in March, but for an actual return to play in July, the MLB owners floated a 50-50 revenue split. This split was immediately requested by the MLBPA as a step toward a hard salary cap—something players have opposed for decades.
With Memorial Day just past the rearview window, this was when summertime Baseball would be in full swing, due to this pandemic, we are stuck to ponder what could be, but also a glimpse of hope to what will be on the horizon.