This is the latest installment of a daily series in which the FanGraphs staff rounds up the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 virus’ effect on baseball.
In yesterday’s roundup of COVID-19 news, Dan Szymborksi covered MLB’s fund for ballpark employees and the lack of clarity surrounding pay for minor leaguers, among other topics. The last 24 hours, not unlike every 24 hour period over the last week or so, has brought with it more news, including potential changes to the MLB draft and a Reds employee testing positive for COVID-19.
No MLB Draft?
According to an Associated Press story from Ronald Blum, among the issues the players’ union and MLB are discussing is what to do with the MLB draft, currently scheduled for June. With college baseball shut down and many high school teams following suit, scouting players for the draft is almost impossible, and the June date could come and go before the MLB season has even started. While the feasibility of holding the draft is one issue, the teams might also be angling to reduce costs by eliminating both the draft and international signings, per Blum.
In 2019, MLB teams spent $316.5 million on draft bonuses and another $100 million on international signings, per JJ Cooper. In Ken Rosenthal’s piece on the subject, he mentions the possibility of a combined draft in 2021, though working out the eligibility details could prove difficult, as currently eligible high school seniors will theoretically be freshman in college a year from now, and not ordinarily eligible for the draft.
Player’s Union and MLB Negotiations
In addition to the draft, Blum also mentions service time, cash advances for players, as well as “adjusting salaries, luxury tax rules, revenue sharing and performance bonuses thresholds in the event of a season of fewer than 162 games, and relaxing schedule and roster rules.” Rosenthal’s piece, with additional reporting by Evan Drellich, addresses some of those topics as well. Service time seems likely to be a sticking point, as delaying a player’s free agency by a year and losing a prime season to team control can cost tens of millions of dollars to a player seeking a long-term contract. To allow even some portion of the players to fail to accrue a year of service time due to a shortened season would be a huge blow to the union.
Reds Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
An Arizona-based Reds employee has tested posted for COVID-19 and the team released the following statement:
As part of our commitment to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Reds are sending a precautionary notice to those who were inside the building of the Reds Spring Training Complex in Goodyear, Arizona, that an Arizona-based Reds employee has tested positive for COVID-19.
For your reference, the dates involved are February 29, 2020 through March 14, 2020. The Reds staff who came in close contact with this employee are being tested and have self-quarantined.
We will continue to follow the state and local guidelines for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
More Teams Announce Payment Plans for Minor Leaguers
Baseball America is maintaining a running list of teams that have plans in place to pay their minor leaguers. Some of these plans are better than others, and vary by amount and duration. The teams included in the piece are the Rays, Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox, Marlins, Padres, Cardinals, Indians, Tigers, and Yankees.
Second Yankees Minor Leaguer Tests Positive for COVID-19
The first known player in an MLB organization to test positive for COVID-19 was a Yankees minor leaguer, and it now appears the team has a second case. In a statement, the team revealed the following:
We can confirm that a second minor league player from our Player Development complex has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. While under self-quarantine, the player reported fatigue and an elevated body temperature to Yankees medical personnel. The test was administered on Sunday, and the player returned to self-quarantine following the positive results. We can also report that within the past 48 hours his symptoms have dissipated.
Memebers of Congress Receive Positive Tests for COVID-19
While not baseball news, Representatives Mario Diaz-Balert of Florida and Ben McAdams of Utah became the first members of Congress to publicly have positive COVID-19 tests.
MLB Cancels 2020 International Series
The Mexico City series scheduled for April 18-19 between the @Padres & @Dbacks & the San Juan series scheduled for April 28-30 between the @Mets & @Marlins have been canceled due to the delayed opening of the 2020 @MLB season. Games will be rescheduled in the home teams’ cities.
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) March 19, 2020
Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.