While many baseball fans wondered when the 2021 season would begin due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, we have finally gotten some news as to when we can expect baseball to return.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday evening told all teams to prepare for the full, standard 162-game season. The plan is to have the season start on time, as well as Spring Training commencing in early February.
Many fans and even teams were expecting a delay with no official word. But for now, MLB plans for a full season. Although, like we’ve seen in the recent past, things can definitely change in a hurry.
MLB also wants to put fans in attendance at a limited capacity. It can happen as soon as Spring Training allows small groups to purchase tickets and sit in “pods.” Fans may be asked to wear a mask when not consuming a beverage or food.
It could possibly mean fans at Dodger Stadium for the upcoming season at some point. As of now, MLB isn’t planning on testing fans, requiring a vaccine mandate or mandating temperature checks while entering ballparks.
Pitchers and catchers are set to report in just a little over a month, so we will see what occurs there.
Liam Hendriks, the reliever of the year in 2020, who the Dodgers were rumored to be pursuing, signed with the Chicago White Sox on Monday evening. Reports said the Dodgers were out of contention late due to the money and length of the contract for which he was seeking.
Hendriks signed a three-year, $54 million dollar deal with Chicago. With $18 million a year, Hendriks broke the record for average annual value for a relief pitcher.
The Dodgers instead loaded up the bullpen with acquisitions of Corey Knebel, old friend Brandon Morrow while re-signing Blake Treinen, all whom could possibly pitch in high-leverage scenarios for the Dodgers throughout the season. There still isn’t a set closer for the team, but the Dodgers do have plenty of viable candidates.
The Dodgers are also rumored to be pursuing former San Diego Padres all-star closer Kirby Yates.
Yates and his elite splitter would strengthen the Dodgers bullpen even more.
In his column on Saturday, Ian explored the prospective consequences of signing Yates.
Dodger fans also may get to see David Price pitch in a Dodger uniform for the first time during the upcoming season. The veteran left-hander posted a video on his Twitter page showing himself preparing for the 2021 campaign.
Price was traded along with Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in a salary dump move. He opted out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic. Earlier in the winter, manager Dave Roberts was unsure if Price would join the team for 2021.
The former Cy Young winner will add another viable arm to the Dodgers’ pitching staff if he does indeed decide to compete in 2021.