Major League Baseball and its Players Association reportedly agreed on an extensive deal that covers a number of topics regarding a shortened or potentially canceled 2020 season in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN's Jeff Passan reported players already voted on the deal that owners are expected to ratify Friday, calling it "an excellent sign that draws a path forward as baseball tries to figure out when it will return."
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted salaries will be prorated based on how long a shortened season is, while Passan reported owners are advancing players $170 million for April and May. The players can keep that advanced money if the season is canceled.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, players will still receive service time if the season doesn't happen. Rosenthal added that players will receive the same service time as they did in 2019 if there is no season, while they will get a full year of it if they are active or on the injured list for an entire shortened campaign.
Passan provided more details, noting players such as Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman and J.T. Realmuto can all become free agents next offseason if there are no games:
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
Along these lines, an important -- if a bit wonky -- point: Because the season will clearly be shorter, the arbitration rules will be adjusted so players are not penalized for putting up counting stats that don't stack up to past comparables. Made lots of sense to do it this way.
As for the draft, Passan noted the league can shorten it to five rounds this year and 20 rounds next year. What's more, it can delay the start of the international signing period to January.
There will also be a transaction freeze in place that will temporarily prevent any roster moves until both sides agree when to lift it, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
While the actual start date to the season is very much up in the air as the sports world waits to see how the pandemic unfolds, Drellich noted Commissioner Rob Manfred appeared on Wednesday's SportsCenter and was targeting a potential start in May.
"My optimistic outlook is that at some point in May we'll be gearing back up," Manfred said. "We'll have to make a determination depending on what the precise date is as to how much of a preparation period we need."
Passan was on Wednesday's episode of Get Up! and raised the possibility of a neutral-site World Series because of weather concerns if the season goes too long into the winter months because of a postponed start time:
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 and the Players Association took a combined step to cover a number of contingencies with the season on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.