May 6, 2020

MLB expected to submit 2020 season restart plan to players union by mid-May, report says

Major League Baseball is currently on hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we may soon get an idea about when baseball could return. At least one team, the Cleveland Indians, have reportedly told players to prepare for a potential July 1 Opening Day.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported MLB could go to the MLB Players Association with a proposal to begin the 2020 season in the coming days. Here’s what Passan said during an ESPN broadcast:

“The expectation around baseball right now is that Major League Baseball is going to be coming to the Players Association with a plan in the coming days to a week-plus or so, and during that time we’re going to get a much better sense of when baseball could actually start in the United States.”

MLB going to the MLBPA with a plan and finalizing a plan are two very different things. Everyone is concerned about safety. That’s the top priority. The MLBPA will also want to ensure travel is not onerous and players are not separated from their families for long periods of time. There will be proposals and counterproposals. The plan will be revised several times, undoubtedly.

“We want to play. As players, we want to play,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said earlier this week. “As these ideas find their way into mainstream media, there are some ideas that seem to make sense, there are others that don’t track very well. All of them are being viewed against the backdrop of getting back on the field and affording our guys an opportunity to do what they love to do.”

MLB and the MLBPA resolved several shutdown-related issues in March. “Each of the parties shall work in good faith to as soon as is practicable commence, play, and complete the fullest 2020 championship season and post-season that is economically feasible,” says the agreement. Translation: MLB and the MLBPA have to agree to everything. One side can’t force the other to start the season.

MLB also hopes to play as many games as possible in home cities this year. Plans that involve dropping some or all teams into hubs like Arizona or Florida will be logistically difficult if not impossible. Games in MLB cities mean players and staff can live at home and easily isolate, among other things.

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