Cubs' Anthony Rizzo Fears Late MLB Return Could Jeopardize 2 Years of Play

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2020

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs looks on from the bench against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field on September 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo expressed concern Friday over the type of impact that the 2020 MLB season going into November or December could have on the 2021 campaign. 

In an interview with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Rizzo discussed the plan to start the 2020 season in Arizona. Rizzo expressed his belief that playing the first six weeks in Arizona and then going back to normal after that could work if possible, but also brought up several negatives involved with the proposal:

"Six weeks, I think that can work. It's just the logistics of it. Hotel workers and grounds crew and cameramen. ... It can be pulled off. I think it could. But health and salaries, how do you work through all that? They can't pay us full pay, right? Then playing into November, December, you're jeopardizing getting ready for next season. I want to play. But we don't want to jeopardize two years of baseball. That's the hard part."

The 2020 MLB regular season had been scheduled to start March 26, but MLB suspended operations during spring training because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Arizona plan would see the 2020 season start with all games being played in Arizona. All players and other team personnel would be quarantined in hotels and tested for COVID-19 regularly. Those games would also be played without fans.

Rizzo was against the idea of the entire season playing out in Arizona over 4.5 months since there is no guarantee that players could be with their families during that time, but was more open to the idea of doing it for six weeks to get things started.

Under either scenario, however, it seems likely that the World Series would be played in November or possibly even December, which would result in a short offseason for players, and could impact preparedness and durability in 2021.

An offshoot of the Arizona plan would see games played in both Arizona and Florida. That would require MLB to realign its divisions and leagues for one season.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Grapefruit League would play all games in Florida and the Cactus League would play all games in Arizona. The divisions would look significantly different than usual with teams normally in different leagues becoming divisional opponents in some cases.

While it is an intriguing idea and one worth exploring if it means baseball can be played in 2020, the same potential issues would exist.

Keeping players away from their families for months wouldn't be feasible, and with no ticket revenue coming in and the season being shorter than the usual 162 games, there is no telling how it could impact player compensation.

The lack of clarity regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and when the spread of it might start to slow makes it difficult to come up with a concrete plan.

United States President Donald Trump announced a three-phase plan to reopen the economy Thursday, but progression of that plan will require 14 consecutive days of lessening coronavirus cases in order for states to individually get the ball rolling.

If Arizona, Florida or both are able to reach that point in the near future, then it could result in MLB taking a closer look at the possibility of starting the season there.

Related

    Adrian Gonzalez Suggests Owners Play with Non-40-Man Roster Players

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Adrian Gonzalez Suggests Owners Play with Non-40-Man Roster Players

    Megan Armstrong
    via Bleacher Report

    No Evidence of Progress Between League and MLBPA

    MLB logo
    MLB

    No Evidence of Progress Between League and MLBPA

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Some Owners Okay with Shutdown

    A group of MLB owners is 'perfectly willing' to not play in 2020 in order to reduce payroll costs

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Report: Some Owners Okay with Shutdown

    Paul Kasabian
    via Bleacher Report

    MLB's Worst Pitching Outings by Position Players

    We'll remember these moments for the wrong reasons for a long time 😬

    MLB logo
    MLB

    MLB's Worst Pitching Outings by Position Players

    Jacob Shafer
    via Bleacher Report