Major League Baseball has taken the first concrete steps toward starting the 2020 season. On Monday, the league’s owners approved a proposal that will be presented to the players on Tuesday by commissioner Rob Manfred outlining plans to start the season amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The players will now have a chance to consider the proposal, which includes adjustments to the normal schedule, roster, and finances. That will no doubt be followed by a back-and-forth between the players and owners that will hopefully end with an agreement. While none of this is set in stone yet, here are some of the reported highlights of the proposed plan to play baseball in 2020.
82-Game Schedule and Universal DH
The ship on playing a full 162-game schedule has long since sailed. However, the owners believe there is time to play 82 games. According to most reports, the aim is to begin a second spring training the second week of June and start the regular season in early July.
To reduce the amount of traveling by teams, games will be played primarily against divisional foes and geographic partners from the other league. That means teams from the NL East and AL East would play one another while teams from the NL West and AL West would also play one another rather than playing teams from other divisions in the same league.
Such a schedule would also involve MLB making the DH universal, at least in 2020.
Despite a shortened schedule, the playoffs will be expanded under this proposal. The new playoff format would allow seven teams from each league and would mimic the plan that leaked over the winter but wasn’t going to go into effect for another year or two.
Essentially, the team with the best record in each league would get a bye while the two other division winners and the top Wild Card would host all three games of a series against the other three Wild Card teams.
In addition to a universal DH, MLB’s plan also calls for rosters to be expanded to 30 players. Teams will also have a list of 20 players available on a taxi squad that would serve as a pool of players to use when roster changes are necessary.
It looks increasingly unlikely that there will be minor league baseball in 2020, which will require MLB teams to keep a set of reserve players that will likely participate in what amounts to an extended spring training while waiting for a call-up.
Perhaps the most important part of the plan is a proposed 50-50 revenue split during the 2020 season. Revenue sharing is done in other pro leagues but it has never been done in baseball. In March, the players already agreed to a prorated salary based on the number of games played and have been adamant that they are done with salary negotiations.
Tony Clark, executive director of the Players’ Union, has already stated that such a plan would be akin to a salary cap. Clark’s comments suggest that the players aren’t going to be receptive to this idea, which could create a major hurdle in getting the 2020 season underway.
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