Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is open to ideas regarding how to handle the return of baseball after the hiatus for the coronavirus pandemic is over.
"Nothing is off the table for us right now," he said during an interview with ESPN's Scott Van Pelt on Wednesday. "There's a lot of ideas out there, and we are open to all of them."
Manfred pointed to the conversations the league has held with the MLB Players Association, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic highlighted some of the primary talking points from those discussions:
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal
Latest MLB proposal includes draft in 2020, likely later than current June dates, sources tell The Athletic. Also includes service time for players if season is canceled; players would get same service for ‘20 they earned in ‘19. Parties earlier had discussed tabling that issue.
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal
If deal is reached with those provisions, only players who would lose service time in canceled season would be those who would have made MLB debuts in 2020. Union would accept pro-rated salaries in shortened season, and agree not to sue for full salaries if season is canceled.
Manfred also noted that the league was optimistic for a May return, per Evan Drelich of The Athletic:
In addition to MLB potentially pushing the draft back from June 10-12, players may receive prorated salaries in a shortened season and receive the same service time for 2020 as they did in 2019 even if the season is canceled.
Ronald Blum of the Associated Press noted the service time situation would mean players such as Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, George Springer and JT Realmuto could become free agents next offseason even if there are no games this year.
That Manfred also suggested the league is looking into various options regarding the schedule is notable after ESPN's Jeff Passan appeared on Wednesday's episode of Get Up! and suggested there could be a neutral-site World Series if weather is an issue with the playoffs potentially starting in November.
Passan said MLB is targeting a June start date where players would participate in a shortened spring training in May, but he noted a later date is also in play:
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
MLB suspended spring training games and pushed back the start of the regular season as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic. It is now waiting to see how the pandemic unfolds with play postponed, much like many other sports leagues across the country.
The NBA, NHL and MLS all suspended their seasons as well, while the NFL has made some offseason adjustments and will no longer hold April's draft in front of a live audience.