Major League Baseball owners are expected to ask players Tuesday to agree to a regular season that would cover about 80 games.
Under the owners’ plan, players would report to training camp in June and start an abbreviated season in early July. Teams would play regionally to minimize travel. Rosters would be expanded to account for the probable cancellation of the minor league season. The postseason would be expanded, too.
Fans would not be admitted, at least at the start.
“I’m still hopeful,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Saturday. “I don’t see how we can’t come to some consensus on both sides. Everyone will benefit. It’s time for the fans to have baseball in their homes. I think it can be a therapeutic and nice diversion.”
It is uncertain what alterations the league might propose in the event local authorities do not let teams play in their home ballparks, or a coronavirus outbreak occurs or recurs. It also is uncertain how the owners might propose to protect the health and safety of players and other personnel.
“I don’t think anything can be done until that [safety] can be guaranteed and we feel comfortable with it,” St. Louis pitcher Andrew Miller told ESPN. “We want to put a good product on the field, but that’s totally secondary to the health of the players. We are generally younger and healthier, but that doesn’t mean our staff is, that doesn’t mean the umpires are going to be in the clear.”
Agent Scott Boras said MLB can learn from the experiences of baseball leagues underway in Taiwan and South Korea, and from soccer leagues around the world. Boras, who represents about 100 major league players, said none of his clients have expressed concerns about playing. However, he said, any player with a medical issue that might put him at risk should be allowed to choose whether he wants to play.
“These contracts aren’t servitude,” Boras said.
In March, owners and players agreed to extend the regular season through October if necessary and conduct the postseason in November.
That agreement also provided that players would be paid on a prorated basis depending on the number of games played.