Throughout the week, we were bracing for the first crumbs of whatever return-to-play proposal MLB was preparing to deliver to the players union. It doesn’t mean things will definitely proceed smoothly from there – the sides are still going to have to negotiate the ugly financial realities, and, you know, COVID-19 has to not derail things – but getting the bits about what the proposal looks like was always the first step.
We expect the proposal to be delivered to the players soon, and Ken Rosenthal reports that the owners are going to conference on it on Monday. *AND* he’s got details:
Latest details on baseball’s plan to return in 2020: https://t.co/woO4yJx7O9
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 9, 2020
Read Rosenthal’s piece for the full set of particulars he’s heard about, but among the highlights (with some of my thoughts):
• The regular season, as rumored, would begin in early July. Presumably, Spring Training Part Two would commence a few weeks earlier.
• Home ballparks are in play for both Spring Training and the regular season, but as I suspected, not everyone is on board with that. Not only are some parks possibly not going to be available per state health orders, but the training environments at Spring Training facilities are simply much better for 40+ players. So, consider locations – especially for Spring Training Part Two – very much TBD.
• The divisions would actually stay the same for playoff purposes (and it’s the expanded playoff idea we’ve heard about), but the *schedules* would be reworked so that you’re only playing your own division and your geographic counterpart division in the other league (i.e., the Cubs’ schedule would be entirely NL and AL Central teams – but they’d still be in the NL Central … no Cubs/Sox division race … ).
• The best part from where I sit? The plan is to account for only about 80 games in the regular season. Don’t get me wrong, I want as many games as possible. But when you do the math on the available months, when you consider player health, and when you consider what could happen if the plan goes too deep into the fall (when there might be another COVID-19 spike), I’d much rather the league was just planning on fewer games over a reasonable period of time.
• Rosters would expand to upwards of 50 players, but I’m going to guess that would actually be something more like a reformulated 40-man roster, with daily rosters limited to 30 to 35 players. Again, just my guess.
Read Rosenthal’s piece for more of the details and all the nuance about actually making this stuff happen. There’s a huge week on deck.