Major League Baseball Set to Return as Players Will Report to Training Camps on July 1st

Baseball is officially back. According to the MLB Players Association, “all remaining issues” between Major League Baseball and the PA “have been resolved and players are reporting to training camps.”

That reporting to training camps will take place on Wednesday, July 1st. The 2020 season, which will be limited to just 60 games, will then begin on July 23rd or 24th.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox, with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and manager Ron Roenicke at the helm, have plenty to do before June comes to an end.

The schedule for the upcoming season has yet to be set, but we do already know who the Red Sox’ opponents will be, as teams will be limited to a region-only schedule, if that makes sense.

In other words, Boston will play the Yankees, Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, and Nationals. That’s it.

There’s still plenty do in a short period of time, but at long last, baseball is back. Players and staff report to training camp July 1st.

The Red Sox will utilize Fenway Park, as well as other baseball facilities in the Boston area, for their training camp.

2020 MLB Trade Deadline Will Be August 31st, per Report

With it looking increasingly likely that the 2020 Major League Baseball season will begin in late July, this season’s trading deadline would be on August 31st, according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark.

This news comes as MLB and the players association continue to hash things out on a potential agreement for the coming season.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the MLBPA  “has agreed to report to training camps by July 1 and play a 60-game season.”

The only thing holding up the finalization of this deal, as noted by Passan, is “one last health-and-safety hurdle to get over.” The hope is that this will be resolved by Tuesday night.

Regarding the newly-implemented August 31st trading deadline for this abbreviated 2020 season, clubs will have a shorter amount of time to determine whether they want to be buyers or sellers at said deadline.

If Opening Day was on July 24th,  teams would only have about 38 days make that crucial decision. And if a club were to acquire a player on an expiring contract at the deadline, they would only have control of that player for 27 days. A little less than four weeks time.

The Red Sox, under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, have four players who are set to become free agents this winter in Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Pillar, Brandon Workman, and Collin McHugh.

J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, and Martin Perez, meanwhile, have options for 2021.

With no baseball yet to be played this season, it’s obviously way too early to determine where the Red Sox will stand come August 31st. But, the moving back of the trading deadline, and the fact that there will even be one, is definitely noteworthy.

Red Sox to Hold Second Version of Spring Training in Boston, per Report

The Red Sox, along with the 29 other Major League Baseball clubs, will hold their second version of spring training in their home cities rather than in Arizona or Florida, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

This news comes one day after MLB ordered all regular spring training facilities be shut down in order to undergo a deep clean. That coming on the heels of several players and staff in the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations testing positive for COVID-19.

The Red Sox’ spring training facility, Fenway South in Fort Myers, Fla., had been open to players since late May. Alex Verdugo, Chris Sale, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Tzu-Wei Lin were among the players who returned to JetBlue Park after the complex underwent a deep cleanse of its own back in late March after a minor-league tested positive for the virus.

If Nightengale’s report is indeed true, it seems unlikely that the Sox would limit themselves to just using Fenway Park in this second version of spring training, especially considering the volume of players that would need to be on hand in this scenario.

When speaking with WCVB’s Duke Castiglione last week on this subject, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said that if spring training were to be held in Boston, “Some colleges have reached out with their facilities if we are in Boston and have offered their fields and the use of their equipment.”

Boston College, Northeastern University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are among the colleges with baseball teams in the area.

At this point in time, there is no start date for a 2020 MLB season, if there even is one. With that, there is no start date for the beginning of spring training, either. So there are still plenty of obstacles, both in terms of COVID-19 and finances, to hurdle before a concrete plan is set in motion.

MLB Owners Approve Proposal for 2020 Season, League Will Present Plan to Players’ Union Tuesday

Major League Baseball owners have approved a proposal from the league for the 2020 season to present to the MLB Players’ Union, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The two sides are expected to meet sometime on Tuesday to discuss said plan.

This marks another step towards potentially getting Major League Baseball this year, and as ESPN’s Jeff Passan states, “now is when it starts to get serious.”

Of course, where things go from here depends on how the players’ union feels about all this.

For starters, “Because games, at least initially, will be played without fans, the players’ would be asked to accept a further reduction in pay, most likely by agreeing to a set percentage of revenues for this season only.”

This idea of revenue sharing is apparently a ‘non-starter’ in any proposal the union gets from the league, per The New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Other hurdles include “making players comfortable with protocols/personnel/equipment that play can resume safely,” as well as where teams will play their games.

More specifically, according to Rosenthal, “Teams unable to open in their cities [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] temporarily would relocate, either to their spring training sites or major-league parks in other parts of the country. The same would apply to spring training 2.0 if the league decides to use mostly home parks as opposed to returning to Florida and Arizona.”

The problem with this is that “Not all clubs agree they should train in their home parks, believing spring locales offer a less densely populated, more controlled environment.”

Regionalized schedules consisting of anywhere between 78-82 games and expanded playoffs have also been discussed, while a universal designated hitter and expanded rosters could also be implemented if there is indeed baseball in 2020.

That final part, for now, is still up in the air, though. And although I can’t say for sure, it would appear that the players’ union has final say on the matter. We should hear more about where the MLBPA goes with this on Tuesday.

 

Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez on MLB Season Being Put on Hold Due to Coronavirus Pandemic: ‘I’m 32. I’m an Antique. I Need to Be out There Playing’

Although he is confident that there will be a Major League Baseball season in some capacity in 2020, Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez is still anxiously awaiting to get back to doing what he’s used to doing this time of year.

Entering his third year with the Red Sox, Martinez can opt out of the final two years of the five-year, $110 million contract he signed with Boston in 2018 this winter. That is probably weighing on his mind as well, especially if he’s going to have fewer games to play in this year.

“I’m 32. I’m an antique. I need to be out there playing,” Martinez told The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham on Wednesday. “This sucks. Hopefully we’ll get a day and I can crank it up and get ready.”

Martinez believes that once baseball does return there should be strict policies in regards to testing just about everyone involved with the game for COVID-19. He told the MLB Players Association that much.

“Everyone would need to get tested,” Martinez told Abraham. “Players, coaches, the media, security guards. If you come in the ballpark, you get tested. I’m not an expert on this virus but you need daily testing.”

While waiting out this pandemic from his Fort Lauderdale home, Martinez has been using fellow south Florida native and Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer’s house, which has a batting cage, as a way to stay in shape. Hosmer is currently waiting things out himself in San Diego.

“He has a cage and I can hit there,” said Martinez of Hosmer’s Southwest Ranches residence. “It’s not ideal, but it’s fine. I’m in offseason mode.”

Based off a recent report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan among others, MLB is planning on sending the MLBPA a return-to-play proposal within the next week. This proposal appears to involve a spring training period starting in June and the regular season starting sometime in early July.

Of course, there are still plenty of hurdles to get over, but I can’t imagine players like Martinez, who comes off like a real creature of habit, enjoy being in “offseason mode” in early May.

MLB Still Planning on Holding Virtual 2020 Draft on June 10th, per Report

Major League Baseball is still planning on holding its annual first-year player draft on June 10th, its original start date, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman

Before the COVID-19 pandemic put sports on hold in the United States and across the world, the 2020 MLB Draft was originally slated to be held in Omaha, Neb. at the same time the College World Series was happening there in June.

Instead, just like we saw with the National Football League this past weekend, this year’s draft will have to be held virtually.

Per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, the number of rounds the 2020 draft will consist of has yet to be decided. That being the case because back in March, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA reached an agreement that would allow commissioner Rob Manfred to cut the draft from anywhere between 5-10 rounds this year while also holding it as soon as June 10th or as late as July 20th.

If this report is true and the draft will indeed begin on June 10th, that means clubs have a little over a month remaining to continue with their preparations while not having much to work with since high school and college baseball has also been put on hold due to the coronavirus.

Based on how Sherman says that, “The plan now is to return the draft to its original start date of June 10 with the potential to add a day if it is deemed necessary,” I would assume that means this year’s draft will be at most a two-day event compared to three days it usually takes to complete 40 rounds.

The Red Sox will make their first selection with the 17th overall pick in the 2020 draft. You can read more about who they might take with that pick here.

MLBPA Calls for Red Sox, Dodgers, and Twins to Resolve Trade Issues ‘Without Further Delay’

In the midst of waiting for this reported three-team trade between the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Twins that would send Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles to become official, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark released a statement earlier Friday calling for all three clubs to resolve matters “without further delay.”

The reason for this delay that has lasted nearly three days is mainly due to the fact that the Sox have reportedly grown concerned over Twins right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol’s medical review, which has led them to project the 21-year-old as a future reliever, not a starter as initially anticipated.

Because of this, Boston is seeking additional compensation from Minnesota, hence the hold up of Betts and Price being shipped off to southern California.

Not only that, the Dodgers also have another deal in place where they would be sending outfielders Joc Pederson and Andy Pages and right-hander Ross Stripling in exchange for infielder Luis Rengifo among others.

So, at a minimum, at least eight players under contract for this season — Betts, Price, Pederson, Pages, Rengifo, Stripling, Graterol, and Alex Verdugo — are not entirely certain on where they will be playing with spring training set to begin next week.

“The events of this last week have unfairly put several Players’ lives in a state of limbo,” Clark said in the above statement. “The unethical leaking of medical information as well as the perversion of the salary arbitration process serve as continued reminders that too often Players are treated as commodities by those running the game.”

That last line may be tough to swallow for some, but in today’s game, it’s not entirely too far away from the truth.

Yes, players are human beings, but with the way attributes such as years of team control are attached to them, it’s hard not to view them as commodities, especially for executives who are trying to put their team, their place of employment, in the best spot they deem possible.

As has already been mentioned on here, I still think this trade will get done. It may involve more moving pieces than originally thought, but Mookie Betts and David Price are still going to wind up with the Dodgers.

Also, Major League Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires at the conclusion of the 2021 season, so that’s something to think about.