COVID-19 Roundup: 2020 Season Negotiations Reach Standstill

This is the latest installment of a series in which the FanGraphs staff rounds up the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 virus’ effect on baseball.

Players Are Through Negotiating With MLB

I won’t delve into this in too much detail, as my colleague Craig Edwards already published a typically comprehensive story this morning on Major League Baseball’s battle with the players over the 2020 season (I would eagerly point you to his work on the subject in general), but to very quickly sum up the events of the weekend:

On Friday afternoon, MLB offered the Players Association a 72-game season at 70% prorated salary, with the potential for the players to receive 83% if a full postseason is played, and an expanded postseason field of 16 total teams. That offer represented little to no movement from MLB’s previous two offers, which made it especially rich to find out that the offer came with a five-page letter from deputy commissioner Dan Halem chastising MLBPA negotiator Bruce Meyer and the rest of the union for negotiating in bad faith.

The players’ response came quickly, with MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark indicating that the union was finished negotiating with the owners, and is now only interested in receiving a date to report to camp.

Meyer responded to Halem the same day, demanding that MLB “inform us of your plans by close of business on Monday, June 15.” That, you might notice, is just a few hours after this roundup’s publication. Whether MLB actually adheres to that deadline remains to be seen, but assuming a dramatically different offer than those it has made up to this point isn’t on its way, there’s a good chance we’ve reached the point of negotiations where the Commissioner unilaterally imposes a season of fewer than 60 games, with players receiving full pro-rated salary.

You can guess what a season of that length would do to the legitimacy of its outcomes. Our Dan Szymborski and Jay Jaffe each looked at what a season of around 50 games looks like, both for this coming year and how it would have affected previous years, concluding that it would produce no more definitive a field of title contenders than would a large tournament. And while the season was always going to be dramatically shortened, The Athletic’s Eno Sarris found that the difference between a schedule of 80-some games and a schedule of as few as 48 games can be enormous.

After weeks of very public animosity, we could at least know a season length and start date very shortly.

Scouts Permitted to Attend Amateur Events Again in Limited Capacity

From ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel:

Clearly, this will be an atypical summer in terms of amateur scouting. The Cape Cod and many other summer collegiate baseball leagues have canceled their seasons, or delayed them indefinitely. According to McDaniel’s follow-up story, however, several high school tournaments have gotten going in some states, with college coaches and scouts previously barred from admission.

While scouts are free to travel, college coaches will have to wait a bit longer. According to Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, the NCAA’s ban on in-person recruiting has already been extended through July 31.

Universities Undecided on How Much to Reveal About Positive COVID-19 Tests

As colleges around the country have begun to open their facilities to student athletes in recent weeks, some of those athletes have tested positive for coronavirus. We just don’t know exactly how many, and that might not change.

According to an Associated Press report, universities are still unsure about whether or not to release positive test numbers to the public, citing concern for athletes’ privacy. Some programs, such as Auburn, have been forthright with their test results (three football players have tested positive). Others, such as Syracuse, only share data with public health officials.

Being concerned for athletes’ privacy sounds like the right impulse, but no one is asking that schools reveal the specific names of those infected. As one expert told the AP, simply announcing the number of positive tests could be essential to both alerting the public about a possible outbreak in their college communities, and to guiding other universities that are still undecided on how best to proceed with re-opening.

NBA Players to Be Tested Every Other Day Starting June 23

In its own attempts to re-open play, the National Basketball Association has told teams that it will begin testing players for coronavirus every other day beginning June 23.

Teams are expected to arrive at Walt Disney World to prepare for the league’s restart between July 7-9, with the season resuming on July 30. According to ESPN, the tests are expected to be less invasive than the nasal swap test. There is not currently a protocol for players who test positive.





Tony is a contributor for FanGraphs. He began writing for Red Reporter in 2016, and has also covered prep sports for the Times West Virginian and college sports for Ohio University's The Post. He can be found on Twitter at @_TonyWolfe_.

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mn105441
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mn105441

Can anyone explain why mass protests with 1000’s of people crammed shoulder to shoulder in a confined space (with or without masks) like what happened in Brooklyn this past weekend are totally OK while baseball is going through this whole charade? If the protests are OK, why shouldn’t baseball have started yesterday – with full stadiums?

The Stranger
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Member

If you don’t see a fundamental difference between gathering to protest unjust deaths (whether you agree with the protesters or not) and gathering to play a baseball game, I don’t know what to tell you.

mn105441
Member
mn105441

It doesn’t matter what I think since we are talking about an infectious pathogen that presumably can’t distinguish whom it infects based on the reason people congregate.

So either CV19 isn’t that dangerous after all and its OK if 1000’s of people congregate together, or it is dangerous but the ‘reward’ of protesting whatever injustice outweighs the risk of potentially spreading a deadly virus

tuna411
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Member
tuna411

lol…you think those protests were over an unjust death?

I saw a lot of criminals causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage.

sadtrombone
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Member
sadtrombone

Because one is an incorporated entity and the other is a relatively spontaneous public gathering? You don’t see how it’s easier to regulate one more than the other?

Besides, after allowing the “reopen” protests to go on, governments can’t find an easy way to disperse protests in the name of public health. I bet they would have tried but it would have been too obvious a case of regulating political speech.

mn105441
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mn105441

So do you think it is acceptable for people to gather by the 1000’s to protest ‘injustice’ and take the risk of potentially spreading CV19 to a large of people?

Max Power
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Max Power

I know what you’re doing: Stop, there can be a lot of consequences for you and your family if you keep doing this

mn105441
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mn105441

LOL is that a threat? Does Fangraphs tolerate this?

Max Power
Member
Max Power

No, to clarify, people have been getting into a lot of trouble about comments made on the internet about race/gender/other political issues when those individuals’ public information gets out. You could lose your job, get personally threatened, etc. Even if what you think what you say is harmless, other people won’t see it that way.

DGLewis
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Member
DGLewis

Can anyone explain why spending eight hours in a crowded meatpacking plant in order to make money to feed your family is OK while Buffalo Wild Wings is going through this whole charade to prevent me from hanging out in a crowded restaurant for eight hours to watch sports on big-screen TVs while I eat and drink? If working at a meatpacking plant is OK, why shouldn’t all the bars and restaurants have opened yesterday – with no limits on occupancy?

mn105441
Member
mn105441

Analogizing working in a plant to provide for your family with protesting ‘injustice’ is a bit much, but that’s besides the point. Either the virus is serious and deadly or it’s not. If it is that serious (115K people have died dontchaknow) then why should anyone even be allowed to work at a meatpacking plant? You can’t provide for your family if you’re dead or in the hospital on a ventilator

HitsHappen
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HitsHappen