By: Justin Girshon
June 25, 2020
At long last, the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) and MLB have agreed to the principles for a 2020 season! After more than 3 months of negotiations, the MLBPA finally agreed that they would accept MLB’s final proposal by accepting their health and safety protocol as well as agreeing to report to Spring Training 2.0 on July 1st!
Due to a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in both Florida and Arizona, MLB teams will be holding Spring Training 2.0 at their home ballparks. Before players report to Spring Training, every organization must submit a 60 man player pool. An organization can invite all 60 players from their pool to Spring Training or send up to 20 players to an alternate site. Similar to a normal Spring Training, pitchers and catchers will report first followed by position players.
After about 3 weeks of Spring Training, regular season baseball will start the weekend of July 24th. To start the season, organizations are permitted to have up to 30 players on the active roster; After 2 weeks, organizations will be permitted to have a maximum of 28 players on the active roster followed by a maximum of 26 players on the active roster 4 weeks later.
The regular season will be 60 games that will take place over the course of 66 days. The trade deadline will be August 31st and for a player to be eligible for the playoffs, they must be on their organization’s active roster by September 15th.
The regular season will end on September 27th and 10 teams will compete to win the World Series. Although there were talks of a potential expanded postseason, MLB decided they would implement the traditional postseason format with 3 division winners from both the AL/NL and 2 wild card teams from both the AL/NL.
What’s new for the 2020 season?
- Universal Designated Hitter
- For the first time in MLB history, both the American League and National League will have a DH!
- Games will only be played within a regional distance.
- In an attempt to limit travel, games will only be played within a regional distance. Each team will play 40 games against teams in their division and 20 games against teams within their region that are in the opposite league. For example, the Cubs will play 10 games against each the Brewers, Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates (40 games against teams in their division). In addition, the Cubs will play 4 games against each the Twins, Indians, White Sox, Royals, and Tigers (20 games against teams within their region that are in the opposite league).
- If a game goes into extra innings, a runner will be placed on second base at the start of each half inning until the game is over.
- In an attempt to keep games as short as possible, MLB will be implementing the runner on second rule that MiLB has been using for the past two seasons. The player who is listed in the batting order ahead of the leadoff hitter in the extra-inning will be placed on second base at the start of the extra inning.
Health and safety protocols:
- There will be a COVID-19 specific inactive list.
- Any player who shows symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 will be placed on this list. The COVID-19 specific inactive list and Injured List are two separate inactive lists.
- Players who are deemed as “high risk players” will be able to sit out the season receive their salary and service time.
- MLB has defined high risk players as players “who, by virtue of their age and/or medical history, are at a materially higher risk of developing severe illness or complications from COVID-19 exposure.”
- Players can sit out, but lose their entire salary.
- Players who are not classified as “high risk players” still have the ability to sit out, they just won’t get paid. Although these players will not get paid, they will still receive 1 year of service time.
- Social distancing (sort of).
- Players on opposite teams are not allowed to be within 6 feet of each other during pregame warmups, in between innings, or after the game; When a manager challenges a call or confronts an umpire, they must be 6 feet away from the umpire; During the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America, players must be 6 feet away from each other.
- Spitting is prohibited.
- Players and coaches will not be permitted to spit saliva, sunflower seeds, peanut shells, tobacco, etc.
- Players must use and retrieve their own equipment.
- Jayson Stark of The Athletic stated, “All hitters will now have to bring their own pine-tar rags, bat donuts and other equipment to and from the on-deck circle — and will have to retrieve their own caps, gloves and sunglasses from the dugout if an inning ends with them on base or batting. All pitchers will now have to bring their own rosin bag to the mound and use only their own baseballs for bullpen sessions. And baseballs used in batting practice can be used only that day, then need to be cleaned and sanitized, and not be re-used for at least five days. So one thing is clear: Teams are going to have to have thousands of baseballs in the old storage closet.”
Featured image via wamu.org