COVID-19 Roundup: 2020 Season Negotiations Reach Standstill by Tony Wolfe June 15, 2020 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. Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark today released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/d1p3Oj4K70 — MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 13, 2020 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: Source: MLB just informed clubs that they can begin scouting amateur events again, max of 3 scouts per club per event. Perfect Game National begins the summer showcase circuit for 2021 draft prospects on Wednesday in Birmingham, AL. Great news for scouts getting back to work. — Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) June 15, 2020 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.