While there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding many details of a prospective baseball season this year, both the MLB and MLBPA were hard at work this week trying to iron out any potential hurdles, specifically when it came to salaries, service time, and the 2020 amateur draft.
An agreement resolving the major issues was reached Thursday, which would have coincidentally been the original Opening Day to the 2020 season.
Jeff Passan of ESPN was among the first to report some of the agreement’s details, noting that owners and players both want to play as many games as possible, with a potential return to training camps happening in mid-May. With an optimistic eye, regular-season games could begin as early as June—even if they play in front of no fans.
These thoughts certainly give hope to fans that the powers that be will do everything possible to orchestrate some kind of season. However, with regards to fans of the Dodgers, speculation about the 2020 All-Star Game in Los Angeles is still very much up in the air.
Another notable outcome of the meetings was that Mookie Betts—among others—will indeed become a free agent at the end of the year, regardless of a season is completed or not. In theory, this means that the superstar outfielder conceivably could not play a regular-season game for the Dodgers.
Perhaps the most significant part of the agreement is that all players who are active or on the injured list for the entirety of a shortened 2020 season will receive a full year of service time. Until the exact details behind a 2020 schedule are revealed, players will receive a pro-rated portion of their salaries over the next two months.
As of Friday, there was a freeze placed on all MLB roster transactions.
According to Passan, Commissioner Rob Manfred has the discretion to shorten the 2020 draft to as few as five rounds this summer. As it stands, it is anticipated it will take place some time in July as opposed to the original June 10-12 time slot.
Moreover, Manfred could consider delaying the 2020 international signing period, which was initially scheduled to run from July 2, 2020, through June 15, 2021, to at the latest Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 15, 2021.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com stated that the MLB is considering the idea of holding a combine—similar to what the National Football League uses—to evaluate amateur players in both 2020 and 2021 if the league determines it logical.
Feinsand also noted that drafted players will receive no more than $100,000 of their signing bonuses up front, receiving 50 percent of the remainder by July 1, 2021 and the other 50 percent by July 1, 2022. Undrafted players will be able to receive no more than $20,000 as a signing bonus.
The office of the commissioner will compose a regular-season schedule for the 2020 season at the appropriate time, at which point the players’ union will have input before it is finalized.
The playoff format for 2020 may also be modified, including the prospect of some games being played at neutral sites.