Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reportedly held discussions regarding what they will do about various issues should the coronavirus pandemic force the cancellation or extended postponement of the 2020 season.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the league's most recent proposal features a later draft than the one currently scheduled for June 10-12 and players receiving the same service time for the 2020 campaign as they did in 2019 even if there are no games.
That would mean, a source told Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, the likes of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman and Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto would be eligible for free agency next winter regardless of whether games are played.
Rosenthal noted such a deal in a canceled season would result in lost service time for only those who were scheduled to make their MLB debut in 2020. What's more, the union would not sue for full-season salaries and would accept prorated ones if the season is shortened because of the pandemic.
Just because the two sides discussed plans for a canceled season does not necessarily mean such a situation is on track to unfold.
Rosenthal pointed out "both sides desire to play as many games as possible" and were simply working under the understanding they need to account for every situation during negotiations.
ESPN's Jeff Passan appeared on Wednesday's episode of Get Up! and revealed the league is targeting early June for a potential start time even though it is "looking at a lot of dates right now." That would include an abbreviated spring training in May and expanded rosters to give pitchers additional time to ramp up toward the regular season.
That would also mean pushing the end of the season back into November, and Passan suggested a neutral site World Series is in play depending on the weather:
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
Went on @GetUpESPN this morning to talk about when MLB would ideally like to start the season and the possibility of a neutral-site World Series. Watch this and read about that and much, much more from my news story late last night: https://t.co/vjZAqKgJ7J https://t.co/FNorgJ2cA5
For now, the league—along with others such as the NBA, NHL and MLS—is in something of a wait-and-see approach as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.
It has not led to an outright cancellation of the season like what happened to the NCAA's winter and spring championships, including the men's and women's basketball tournaments. However, with these discussions, the league and players association is making sure it is prepared in case such a situation occurs.