Discussions between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association regarding issues surrounding the coronavirus-induced work stoppage produced an agreement, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Thursday night.
The league received the right to shorten the number of rounds in the next two drafts while also pushing back the international signing periods through 2022, according to Passan.
In return, the players reportedly were guaranteed full service-time credit for 2020, even if no games are played this year. That means Mookie Betts, Marcus Stroman and dozens of other players will hit free agency as originally scheduled next winter regardless of when or if baseball resumes this year.
Arbitration cases also would take into account the potential reduction in games this year, treating players’ 2020 statistics on a pro-rated basis when using past stats as a benchmark.
The MLBPA approved the deal on a conference call with more than 80 players, and the owners plan to affirm the agreement on a Friday call, Passan reported.
Another key element of the reported agreement was ownership advancing the players $170 million over the next two months, with the players vowing not to sue for their full salaries in case the season is completely wiped out.
Per the report, the MLBPA will distribute the funds to players in four different levels, with the money considered an advance against the pro-rated salaries they would receive later.
The owners received the right to cut the 2020 draft to five rounds, and the 2021 draft could be pared down to 20 rounds, according to Passan. Last year’s draft went 40 rounds.
Earlier Thursday, ESPN reported that MLB plans to delay the draft, scheduled for June 10-12, by at least one month. Also, payment of signing bonuses reportedly could be deferred until 2021 or 2022.
The 2020 international signing period could be pushed back as far as January 2021, with the 2021-22 international signing period potentially being delayed to 2022, per the report.
Thursday was scheduled to be Opening Day for all 30 MLB teams, but spring training was halted on March 12, when an announcement was made that the start of the season would be delayed by at least two weeks.
MLB announced on March 16 that it was postponing the start of the season indefinitely.
On Wednesday night, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt that all options remain open for when play might start and what a potentially shortened season might look like.
“The one thing I know for sure is baseball will be back,” Manfred said. “Whenever it’s safe to play, we’ll be back. Our fans will be back. Our players will be back. And we will be part of the recovery, the healing in this country, from this particular pandemic.”
—Field Level Media