Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports that that Major League Baseball “plans to deliver a new economics proposal to the Players Association on Tuesday.” The proposal would, of course, relate to how the business of baseball would proceed if there is, in fact, a 2020 season.
As we wrote yesterday, due to copious leaks and what has seemed like a P.R. campaign on the part of Major League Baseball, there has been a widespread assumption on the part of fans and many members of the press that the league has already asked the players to make concessions that might include a 50/50 revenue share as opposed to salaries. But no, the league has yet to put anything down in an actual proposal. We’ll find out what the league is seeking when that changes on Tuesday. For the players part, they have already signaled that if the proposal does include a revenue split that it’s a non-starter.
Beyond the dollars and cents of it all, the two parties seem to be working toward an agreement on the health and safety side of the return-to-play initiative, but there is still work to be done there as well. What we do know is that Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training around early-to-mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.
The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.
In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.
The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.
We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.