COVID-19 Roundup: A New Spring Training League Plan

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

Latest Florida-Arizona Plan Revealed

On Friday, Bob Nightengale reported a potential regular season plan that would divide teams not along American and National League lines, but instead by spring training site. Ben Clemens discussed the proposal at FanGraphs:

But short of that, I think it’s far better. The Florida weather is a smaller problem, in my eyes, than the difficulty of playing so many games in the desert heat. Any of several plans could handle the scheduling requirements, and all of those plans would make for better viewing than the Arizona-only plan. Some of the plans would also have their own weirdness; strange double headers or one team constantly resting or unbalanced leagues. But they’d all deliver on the key thing we need: baseball, and live baseball at times when people could watch it. Solve the non-baseball issues, and this Arizona-Florida plan could handle the rest.

Atlanta Commits to Paying Employees

The first team to commit to paying their employees beyond the beginning of May is the Atlanta Braves, per Kiley McDaniel. We are now nearing the middle of April and with the end of the month just a couple weeks away, many across baseball are unsure how long they will remain employed by their clubs. The Braves might have been the first team to announce a plan through the end of May, but it seems likely that more teams will make similar announcements in the coming weeks.

MLB and MiLB Expected to Resume Negotiations

At the end of the current season, the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA), which governs the relationship between MLB and MiLB, expires. There was considerable talk in the offseason regarding MLB’s plans to contract roughly one-quarter of existing minor league teams (I discussed the issues in February). Since then, the pandemic has changed the parties’ negotiating power considerably, with the minor league potentially losing the 2020 season altogether, and shortened drafts in 2020 and 2021 limiting the number of potential minor leaguers. Those representing the minors hoped that MLB would consider a one-year extension on the current deal so they can negotiate when the effects of COVID-19 are better understood, per Evan Drellich. MLB doesn’t appear interested in that approach, and is likely to use the current conditions to strike a more favorable deal as it’s better able to weather the financial ramifications wrought by the pandemic. Talks are expected to resume in the next few weeks.

Sports Photographer Anthony Causi Dies from COVID-19

A long-time sports photographer with the New York Post, Anthony Causi, passed away due to COVID-19 on Sunday. He had two young children, John, 5, and Mia, 2, his wife Romina. Marc Carig wrote a tribute to Causi, closing:

To be around Anthony Causi was to be around someone who loved what he did — and you couldn’t help but be inspired by it.

He will be sorley missed by many.

Nationals Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

A Nationals staffer has tested positive for COVID-19, per AP. The person tested positive after the club’s facilities were shut down, and is now recovering at home symptom-free after a period of quarantine.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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Mike NMN
2 years ago

You might be seeing the beginning of a Minor League contraction even more extensive than MLB originally proposed. No way that MLB won’t sustain and even escalate their demands. There might be some public pressure to preserve teams, but this is a great excuse.