After the league and the Players’ Association were in communications over the last 24 hours or so about a host of issues, there is at least one resolution in place.
Players are not going to be required to stay in Spring Training camps. They can head home if they prefer, with the timeline after that TBD:
The Cubs are allowing their players to go home if they so choose. What happens next is anybody's guess.
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) March 13, 2020
In a change, players are being sent home from spring camps now after an agreement between MLB and union. Possible some could remain but there will be no formal workouts. Players are concerned.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 13, 2020
Multiple Major League Baseball teams have started allowing players to go home, sources tell ESPN. Some will stay in Arizona. Others will go to their teams' cities. Others will just go home. Unclear when they'll return, though MLB will need a ramp-up period before it starts games.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 13, 2020
I wonder what this means for players in on work visas from other countries, and what it means for minor league players who were living by camp and getting their meals there (since they aren’t paid and might not have savings). Maybe many of the minor leaguers will just stay and be taken care of by the orgs?
The league has already delayed Opening Day to April 9 at the earliest, but with players headed home, I think this is an acknowledgement that regular season games will not actually be played at that time. There’s going to have to be a ramp-up period of at least some length of time – a couple weeks? – and if players are going home now, knowing that every locale is going to have to get past the COVID-19 peak before we could even start thinking about having large crowds together again, that means the ramp-up period isn’t coming for a while.
Games were already going to be banned (with fans, anyway) in Chicago through April – likely other cities and states, too – so again, I think we’re just seeing an acknowledgement today from baseball that April 9 is not realistic.
I wouldn’t get your hearts set on baseball returning until at least May at this point.
In the meantime, the issue of player compensation could be a thorny one.