MLB Announces Winter Meetings Will Be Held Virtually amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2020

Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the Major League Baseball winter meetings Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Major League Baseball announced Friday it has postponed its annual winter meetings indefinitely and will conduct them remotely "as necessary."

The winter meetings were originally scheduled for Dec. 7-10 at the Omni Dallas Hotel and Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas.

The news was to be expected since the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly limited the extent to which pro sports leagues could stage in-person activities.

The MLB already went the remote route with the 2020 draft, which was also shortened to five rounds compared to its usual 40.

With the pandemic growing in scope, the NFL banned predraft and free-agent visits in the spring and held its draft remotely as well. For the most part, the league's offseason largely unfolded as normal nonetheless.

Still, losing the winter meetings is a tough blow because it brings together fans and personnel from across the league. Since so many team officials and player agents are in one place, the event is often when the biggest free-agent dominoes fall. Gerrit Cole agreed to his record-setting nine-year, $324 million deal with the New York Yankees during last year's winter meetings.

More so than the absence of the winter meetings, the financial ramifications of the pandemic could lead to more protracted contract negotiations. The Athletic's Evan Drellich spoke with an MLB official who said the league lost $3.1 billion in revenue this past season.

The Athletic's Zack Meisel reported the Cleveland Indians placed closer Brad Hand on outright waivers rather than triggering his $10 million club option. The St. Louis Cardinals declined Kolten Wong's $12.5 million. Those moves would seem to foreshadow a larger trend as teams rein in spending even more so than they have in recent years.

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