The players will hold a virtual meeting at 5PM today to vote on the owners’ proposal to play a 60-game 2020 MLB season. The specific details of the proposal have been leaked. In relevant part:
- 60 games at full prorated salaries;
- Salaries will NOT be guaranteed in the event games are not played;
- The playoff pool for players will be $25 million, minimum;
- If fewer that 50 games are played then playoffs will NOT be expanded for the 2021 season and the DH will NOT apply to the 2021 season;
- There will be no salary relief with respect to the $170 million the owners advanced the players in early April. The players had requested that some of that be transformed from an advance on future salaries to a one-time payment;
- No modifications will be made to the qualifying offer system.
A possible vote over the weekend was postponed after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made some tweaks to the offer, particularly with respect to the 2021 expanded playoffs and the DH if a full season isn’t played in 2020. That was seen as a sweetener for players who otherwise would’ve given up concessions for next year without getting corresponding benefits in 2020 due to cancelled games.
The players have proposed a 70-game season, but Manfred has said that’s an “impossibility” due to the calendar. If the players vote down the owners’ latest proposal — and most people believe they will — it seems inevitable that Manfred will impose a short season. Possibly as soon as today.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported last night that Major League Baseball is “actively pursuing an additional medical lab site to increase the speed and efficiency” of MLB COVID-19 tests.
The current setup — as planned by MLB and approved by the MLBPA as a part of the plan to play the 2020 season — is for all MLB COVID-19 tests to be sent to and processed by MLB’s PED testing lab in Salt Lake City, Utah. As you likely heard, there have been delays in the administration of COVID-19 tests and in the shipping of tests to Utah, but to date no one has reported that the lab itself has not been able to handle the tests once they’ve arrived there. If MLB is looking for a second lab site a week into this process, it suggests that their plans for the Utah lab might not be working the way they had anticipated.
The issues with testing have created unease around the game in recent days, with some players and team executives speaking out against Major League Baseball’s handling of the plan in the early going. Commissioner Rob Manfred, meanwhile, has responded defensively to the criticism.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported this morning that, months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States still lacks testing capacity. From the report:
Lines for coronavirus tests have stretched around city blocks and tests ran out altogether in at least one site on Monday, new evidence that the country is still struggling to create a sufficient testing system months into its battle with Covid-19 . . .“It’s terrifying, and clearly an evidence of a failure of the system,” said Dr. Morgan Katz, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Hospital . . . in recent weeks, as cases have surged in many states, the demand for testing has soared, surpassing capacity and creating a new testing crisis.
It’s less than obvious, to say the least, how Major League Baseball plans to expand capacity for MLB COVID-19 tests while America as a whole is experiencing “a new testing crisis” and a “failure of the system.” At the very least it’s less than obvious how, even if Major League Baseball can do so, it can do so ethically.