Batter up! Baseball is back. On Tuesday, the league and the union agreed to health and safety protocols that will guide baseball’s return.
Players will report to training camp locations by next Wednesday, July 1st and opening day will be either July 23rd or 24th.
This plan comes after a three-month negotiation of back and forth proposals between the league and the MLB Players Association. The two couldn’t agree on a deal for baseball’s return, so it led to the league imposing a 60-game schedule, guaranteeing players a full prorated portion of their salaries.
In a statement from Major League Baseball Communications, commissioner Rob Manfred said “Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon and the MLB is excited to provide their great fans with baseball again soon.”
Although baseball is back, things will look very different. With the league attempting to limit travel, all 30 MLB teams will play 40 games against their divisional opponents and 20 games against their opposite league’s corresponding geographical division – meaning East vs East, Central vs Central and West vs West.
For example, let’s look at the Chicago Cubs schedule, whose double-A affiliate is the Tennessee Smokies. The Cubs will play 10 games each vs Saint Louis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. They will play 4 games each vs the White Sox, Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit and Minnesota.
Teams will have a taxi squad that allows them to have 60 players available to play in major league games. Rosters will start at 30 men for the first two weeks, then go to 28 for the next two weeks, and stay at 26 for the remainder of the season.
According to the health and safety protocols players will receive staggered report times and will be tested every other day even if they are asymptomatic. There will be a COVID-19 injured list, with no minimum or maximum length of time spent on it, and as of right now, all games will be played without fans.
As for the minor league systems, there’s been no discussion of a season.