Olympic baseball qualifiers
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Deal reached on player eligibility for 2020 Olympics

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Jon Morosi reports that MLB, the MLBPA and the World Baseball Softball Commission have reached an agreement on which players will be eligible to compete in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Per Morosi, players who are on 40-man rosters but not in the big leagues will be allowed to participate in the Olympics. That means that a number of top prospects and veterans in the minors are now eligible, which significantly improves the talent level of the teams. Players who are not on 40-man rosters were already able to compete. The agreement will be in effect for the qualifying rounds taking place from March 22nd-26th in Arizona. Teams are not obligated to allow players within their organizations to compete, but one imagines that at least some fairly notable names will be suiting up.

The Olympics run from July 24th to August 9th, with baseball being an event for the first time since 2008. Unlike the Japanese and Korean leagues, MLB will not be having a midsummer break to the schedule to allow for players to compete in Tokyo. That means no, you won’t be seeing guys like Mike Trout and Juan Soto competing for gold medals. However, it’s entirely possible that someone like Adam Jones, who now plays in Japan, could be playing for Team USA. Other notable players such as Wladimir Balentien and Hayato Sakamoto could compete as well.

It’s difficult to judge whether or not MLB teams will be cool with their top prospects going to Tokyo. Do the Rays, for instance, really want to let Wander Franco out of their sights? What about the White Sox and Andrew Vaughn? Would the Braves let Drew Waters or Christian Pache go play, if they haven’t made the majors by then? That also leads to another question.

There’s a lot of good nearly-MLB ready players who could go represent their countries in the Olympics. Would their MLB teams be okay with letting that bit of depth fly to Japan for a few weeks? That’s some serious injury insurance hopping on a plane and flying around the world, and not a quick phone call away in Triple-A. There’s a lot of considerations to take into account.

There’s also the matter of the coronavirus outbreak. Both NPB and the KBO have already cancelled some spring training games because worries about the spread of the disease. There’s no telling how long the crisis will last, but the Olympics could be impacted if the outbreak isn’t contained by July.

Obviously it would be cool as hell to watch a bunch of top prospects go whack baseballs in the Olympics. Putting Adley Rutschman in the same lineup as veterans like Adam Jones? Sign me up. I just wonder how much flexibility the teams are going to allow with their players.

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Cards’ Yadier Molina says he tested positive for COVID-19

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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says he’s one of the players on the team who tested positive for COVID-19.

The nine-time All-Star revealed his results Tuesday in a Spanish-language Instagram post. Soon afterward, the Cardinals issued a release naming six of the players who have tested positive.

The others are infielders Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo along with pitchers Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley.

“I am saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place,” Molina said in a release issued by the team. “I will do everything within my power to return as soon as possible for Cardinals fans, the city of St. Louis and my teammates.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that seven players and six staff members had tested positive. At the time, Mozeliak said the people to test positive hadn’t been identified publicly because they had declined to have their names released.

The Cardinals said Tuesday that six players had decided to grant permission to have their names revealed.

“I will approach my healing as I do all other things in my life – with education, commitment, and persistence. I look forward to re-joining the team soon and ask that you respect my privacy at this time,” DeJong said in a statement released by the team.

The outbreak resulted in the postponement of the Cardinals’ scheduled three-game weekend series at Milwaukee as well as a four-game series with Detroit that was supposed to run Monday through Thursday. The Cardinals have played just five games this season and are hoping to return to action Friday hosting the Chicago Cubs.

As of now, the Cardinals who have tested positive have returned home while the rest of the team remains isolated in Milwaukee hotel rooms. Their last game was July 29 at Minnesota.

Mozeliak said Monday that five of the 13 overall members of the Cardinals’ traveling party to test positive were asymptomatic. The other eight had minor symptoms including headaches, coughs, sniffles and low-grade fevers. Mozeliak said none of the eight had required hospitalization.

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