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Teams, not just players, think MLB’s safety protocol proposal is ‘over the top’


After this morning’s post about players and health experts’ take on Major League Baseball’s proposed COVID-19 safety protocols, I read Ken Rosenthal’s report in which he spoke to multiple team executives for their views. Guess what: they see problems too:

Calling the suggested protocols, “way over the top,” one president of baseball operations offered a prediction on Major League Baseball’s 67-page draft on health and safety for the 2020 season.

“That document will look way different after the feedback from teams, the Players Association and players,” the executive said.

Any negotiated thing will, of course, look differently after negotiation. The problem, though, is that in most negotiations the parties are limited only by what they collectively agree to live with. In this negotiation, there is an absolute baseline: safety and medical soundness. If what it considered to, generally, be the only safe way to do a certain thing, the parties cannot responsibly dip below that baseline simply in the name of agreement.

So, what do Rosenthal’s sources say isn’t workable?

  • Testing: the executives to whom he spoke agree with the sentiment Mike Trout shared the other day — and to which experts agree — that testing has to be an every day thing, not just a many-times-a-week thing. The problem, though, is that that kind of capacity may not be available by July; and
  • At-the-park restrictions: the executives agree that all of the at-the-park protocols about spitting, showering, etc., are too restrictive which, again, only increases the need for constant, reliable testing. They likewise think that rather than ban congregating at hotels and socializing on the road, simply wearing masks and washing hands and things is the way to go.

Which, hey, that sounds like the basis for agreement between players and clubs on these terms.

The only problem is: is that place of agreement good enough? And safe enough?

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.