As you are almost assuredly aware of – the 2020 Major League Baseball season is currently on hold. With the whole coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic happening, the entire world is basically shutting itself down as much as possible in order to try and limit exposure to a dangerous virus. Since announcing that spring training has been cancelled two weeks ago, we’ve seen the start of the regular season pushed back from “two weeks” to a date unknown as it began to sink in with the decision makers that this was going to be a longer than two weeks kind of situation. In that time, we’ve also seen MLB officials negotiating with the Major League Baseball Players Association working towards figuring out many different aspects of how things could work in scenarios where the season is shortened, or perhaps doesn’t happen at all.

Last night the two sides came to an agreement. The only thing needed to finalize it is the owners approval (MLB negotiated on their behalf) – which is expected to take place during a noon ET conference call according to multiple reports. Before diving into all of the aspects of what the agreement is, I’m going to provide some links to sources that were reporting on the details as they emerged.

Jeff Passan broke the news on twitter, and later wrote about it at Joel Sherman of The New York Post had a few parts of the agreement reported first in his twitter feed. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic also had a few parts of the deal reported first on his twitter feed.

Now, let’s jump into what it was that was agreed upon. There are two very big things here for the Major League Baseball players: Money and service time. Let’s start with the money. The owners are fronting $170,000,000 in player salary over the next two months. This is how it will break down, according to Jeff Passan:

The union agreed not to sue the league for full salaries in the event that the 2020 season never takes place, and MLB will advance players $170 million over the next two months, sources said. The MLBPA will divvy up the lump sum among four classes of players, with the majority of it going to those with guaranteed major league contracts. If games are played, the advance will count against final salaries, which will be prorated.

This scenario means that the players get at least some financial certainty. If the season never comes to fruition, they get something rather than nothing. The other thing that the players were worried about was service time. Not only how much they would get credit for if a season is player – but what they would get if the season wasn’t played. Ken Rosenthal originally reported first on this one:

How this comes into play with the Reds is interesting. If a season isn’t played, impending free agents such as Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani would still become free agents after the year. Where things get a bit interesting, too, is that players who haven’t yet reached arbitration, but are in their final pre-arbitration year, will still reach arbitration next year despite no games in 2020. By my count that would include Jesse Winker, Tyler Mahle, Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson, and Luis Castillo. There’s a chance I’m missing someone, too.

Now, what did the players have to give up in order to come to this agreement? The biggest one seems to be that they bargained away the rights of amateur players once again. The 2020 draft could be limited to five rounds. It’s usually 40 rounds. And while teams can sign undrafted players in free agency this year, their signing bonus limits can only be up to $20,000. To put that in perspective, the first pick of the 2019 draft in the 6th round had a bonus pool allotment of $301,600. That same player this year would have to choose between signing for $20,000, or going to (or back to) school. There’s a lot more involved than that, but I’m going to save that rant for where it’s going to be more detailed about the ramifications of this plan.

Without any set date for when the season can start up, some things are still up-in-the-air, such as roster sizes, how many double headers can be played/will be allowed to be played if a season starts up, and a few other issues that can’t really be worked on until a much more firm timeline of events can be laid out.

16 Responses

  1. RojoBenjy

    Aren’t they at all concerned about how many people will realize they’ve been able to live happily without baseball and may not return to the games?

    Do they have a plan to reignite fans?

    • JayTheRed

      I wonder about this too. Just got an image of the part from Jurassic Park 1 when the lawyer says well we can offer a coupon day or something.

      Hopefully baseball reduces the cost of seats for this season if we have one at all. All Seat prices maybe a quarter off normal price or maybe even half to get the stadiums full again.

  2. KDJ

    I am so glad to hear that players who have been making $20,000,000
    per year are going to be taken care of.

    • RojoBenjy

      That takes a load off my mind too.

    • JayTheRed

      They should have set a cap for who got paid. It should have been something like the federal government is doing. Anyone making under a million should get paid anyone under 5 million gets 1/2 pay and anyone under 10 million gets a quarter pay. Anyone else should get nothing in pay because they have plenty of money to take care of themselves and their entire families for that matter.

      Kinda sad.

  3. wkuchad

    “How this comes into play with the Reds is interesting. If a season isn’t played, impending free agents such as Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani would still become free agents after the year.”

    Frustrating from the Reds perspective. They traded away one of their best trade chips for Bauer, and we could have nothing to show for it.

  4. Linkster

    So, the rich get richer and the rest do without. Draftees and minor league players get screwed. It must be nice to receive a large chunk of money for nothing and a bigger chunk next year. God Bless MLB and MLBPA…not!

  5. TR

    A Hall of Fame player, Jim Wynn, passed on this week. He played most of his career with the Astros. Wynn was a native of Cincinnati.

  6. Doug Gray

    Can you tell us how you really feel?

  7. RedNat

    This virus attacks athletes too. Look how many NBA cases there were. I cant imagine players wanting to return to the field anytime soon. This virus is just too dangerous. The ow ers can remain in isolation protected from this thing. The players cannot. I forsee a major players union versus owners dispute developing

  8. Jay

    So let me get this straight, not only is there a real chance MLB could get cancelled this year, but players will still get paid and be able to go FA as if they played a whole year of baseball? Meanwhile there is no talk of reducing ticket prices or cost of MLB.TV for a shortened season? Sounds completely legit to me. I was super stoked about the Redlegs chances this year, but now seeing how selfish MLB has been and given these new facts that some players will be able to walk away after 2020 despite a potential cancellation not so sure I’ll have much interest to watch. Too bad.

    • JayTheRed

      I don’t mind players getting a portion of their salary especially if we play games this year. The thing that bothers me most is the part about if we don’t have a season players can just walk away and give the team and their fans nothing for the missed time away. Also I think opt outs should be banned for this coming offseason especially if there is no season this year cause the team didn’t get anything from the player for their money.

      Maybe i’m unrealistic on this but players need to give some too back to the team and the fans.

      • REDSMAN

        And of course, the players show absolutely zero concern for those who may come after them. It’s like, “Who gives a crap about minor leaguers, as long as we get ours!”
        And the owners are no better. Cutting draft from 40 to 5 rounds!?! That’s like, “Let’s just destroy the minor leagues and do as NFL, let colleges feed the machine.
        Tough times show the real character of people, for good or bad…guess there’s little doubt about the character of MLB or MLBPA!!!
        Once again, the Bozo’s running MLB have stubbed their toe! (To put It mildly)

  9. Jay

    Yeah, the fallout of this meeting is going to be felt across the fan base. People are struggling right now to stay afloat, but the players still want paid and incur service time like this stuff never happened. The moral and sensitive thing to do would have been to suspend all salary talks till after this blows over. I get it we need to figure out when to resume play and how many games, etc, but no one wants to hear about your $1M paycheck when their are hundreds of thousands families who are only getting a measly $1200 from the fed.

    • Doug Gray

      There are a whole lot of players that are a part of this deal who aren’t getting paid anywhere near $1M. Guys on the 40-man roster for the first time make $40,000 a season unless they get into the big leagues. This agreement includes them. Guys in big league camp but not on the 40-man are also in this.

      I get it. A lot of us are out of work/have less work/facing uncertainty. But for every Mike Trout who has a $35M contract for this year, there’s another guy who has a $40,000 contract that isn’t going to be paid in full this season, and that guy – like you or I, is facing some real hard times and beyond that $1,200 check he’ll get, he’s not eligible for unemployment or anything else. That guy, and there’s plenty of them, needed some answers and help.