MLB Will Not Require All Minor League Players to Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19

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MLB Will Not Require All Minor League Players to Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Chicago Cubs

Not to be lost amid the lockout and the CBA negotiations and the at-least-we-have-the-minors hopefulness, there’s still a pandemic going on that impacts sports. It sucks. It’s been too long. I hate it. But it’s the reality.

To that end, you wonder what the health and safety protocols are going to look like this year when MLB finally does get underway, but whatever it is, you’ll recall that the players have to agree to it. So add that to the list of things that have to be wrapped up VERY QUICKLY at some point during these negotiations.

Minor league players, however, do not have a union, and thus do not have collectively-bargained rights of the same kind that big league players do. So if MLB, which now operates all of minor league baseball, wanted to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all minor league players, it could do it. Indeed, that was thought to be the plan … until today:

I wonder what the testing regime will look like in the minor leagues, given that we’ve seen dramatic changes on that side of things in the winter sports. For the big leagues, I do not anticipate vaccination will be agreed upon by the players and the league as part of the CBA talks, so it’s likely to remain a player-by-player decision.

In an ideal world, every safely-able player (major and minor) would be vaccinated and boosted, both because it can help reduce the risk of spread on a team and also because it greatly reduces the risk of an infection becoming a serious health problem. But, as we’ve seen, that’s simply not going to happen. Thankfully, it appears that the omicron variant is less virulent than prior waves, so even where there are outbreaks, you can reasonably hope at this moment in time that the health outcomes are better. (Which is not to say the overall strain on the health care systems isn’t a risk factor. I am just talking about team-level outbreaks for now.)

What that all means precisely for baseball in 2022 remains to be seen. They have the benefit of having watched how other leagues navigated the omicron wave this winter, and it’s possible that there will have been lessons learned about what kinds of testing and quarantining and other safety behaviors is necessary, and what is no longer necessary. Eventually, mercifully, this will stop being a thing we have to discuss in relation to sports, but it seems unlikely the 2022 season will be when it happens.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.