MLB owners, players clear multiple economic hurdles
Before the major-league baseball season can resume, multiple economic issues have to be resolved.
According to several reports Thursday night, owners and the Major League Players Association have reached a tentative agreement. An official vote is expected on Friday.
If the regular season can be played, both sides want to have as many games on the schedule as possible through October, which would push the playoffs into November.
Doubleheaders are likely during the regular season and, if needed, postseason games could be moved to warm weather cities in November.
Players are going to receive a $170 million advance and will receive prorated salaries once play does begin.
All players who had a full year of service time in 2019 will be given a full year this season, regardless of the number of games played.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is sure of one thing.
"Baseball will be back," he said.
In an interview with Scott Van Pelt on ESPN's SportsCenter, Manfred didn't follow up the proclamation with a specific date due to the uncertainties accompanying the coronavirus pandemic.
"The one thing I know for sure is baseball will be back," Manfred said. "Whenever it's safe to play, we'll be back. Our fans will be back. Our players will be back. And we will be part of the recovery, the healing in this country, from this particular pandemic."
Opening Day was supposed to be Thursday, but major-league baseball was shut down by the coronavirus two weeks ago and spring training camps cleared out in Arizona and Florida.
An abbreviated spring training will be needed once play is able to resume, but there is obviously no specific target date to get back on the field.
"My optimistic outlook is that at some point in May, we'll be gearing back up," Manfred said. "We'll have to make a determination, depending what the precise date is, as to how much of a preparation period we need, whether that preparation period is going to be done in the clubs' home cities or back in Florida and Arizona.
"I think the goal would be to get as many regular-season games as possible and think creatively about how we can accomplish that goal."
The initial hope was MLB would play a normal 162-game regular season, but that no longer seems possible. The new hope is a "credible number of games."
"I think the exact number that we'll see as reasonable is going to depend on when we get to go-ahead to play," Manfred said. "I don't have some absolute number in my mind that's a make-or-break. I think we have to evaluate the situation. I also think that we need to be creative in terms of what the schedule looks like, what the postseason format looks like.
"Obviously our fans love a 162-game season and the postseason format that we have. We're probably not going to be able to do that this year, I think that's clear. It does give us an opportunity to do some different things, to experiment, and to make sure that we provide as many games as possible and as entertaining a product as possible."