COVID-19 Roundup: Players Submit Their Latest Offer to MLB

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.

MLBPA Proposes 89-game Season With Full Prorated Salaries, Expanded Playoffs For Two Years

The Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted to ownership a proposal that includes an 89-game 2020 season at the full prorated salaries the two sides agreed to in March, according to multiple reports.

The players’ intended regular season would begin on July 10 and finish on October 11, followed by an expanded playoff field that includes 16 teams — eight from each league — instead of the usual 10. That expanded playoff field would also be used in 2021 under the players’ plan. Tuesday’s proposal also mentions the players providing “broadcast enhancements” throughout the year including in the playoffs, which would seem to include things like wearing microphones on the field during play. Finally, the proposal includes opt-out rights for all players that would allow any player to forgo the season while also forfeiting the year of salary and service time. Players designated as high-risk due to conditions with COVID-19 comorbidity however, or those co-habitating with a high-risk person, could opt out without losing any salary or service time.

Previously, the players had offered a 117-game season with full prorated salaries, along with similar modifications made to the next two postseasons. MLB countered on Monday with a 76-game season that would pay players just 50-75% of their prorated salary.

Unsurprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be any more optimism about MLB accepting the latest offer from players than there was over the previous one. Ownership has continued to dig in their heels over the subject of how dire their finances are, with Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. becoming the latest to embarrass himself when he appeared on a radio show Tuesday and told listeners that, “the industry isn’t very profitable, to be quite honest.” Depending upon your disposition, that statement is either silly or outright grotesque. As another great bit of analysis done by my colleague Craig Edwards, he showed on Tuesday, paying players their full prorated salaries over an 82-game season would still allow the majority of teams to turn a profit, even in a shortened season without fans in seats.

Nonetheless, despite the players’ latest offer constituting a clear step toward ownership’s desires, there is still a lot of ground to make up in the middle. If no further compromise can be made, MLB is inclined to move forward with a season of as few as 48 games, according to reports.

Players Association Urges Scott Boras Not To Pay Minor Leaguers

Scott Boras has been told by the Players Association not to follow through on his previous promise to pay the salaries of any of his minor league clients who had been released, per a report from Ken Rosenthal. Instead, Boras said he will donate the intended money to VoteRiders, a non-profit that works to address the myriad hurdles Americans face when trying to exercise their right to vote.

The union said Boras’s plan, while “well-intentioned,” would violate its agent regulations. According to Rosnethal, the union’s rules state, “Any gifts or promise of gifts, of money or of any other thing with an aggregate value exceeding $500 U.S. in any calendar year, by an Expert Agent Advisor to any single player, or any persons related to or associated with such player, are prohibited.”

Boras said he did not believe his payments would be considered outside the rules, and will not face any kind of punishment from the Players Association. The union is reportedly attempting to compensate released minor leaguers in some way on its own.

MLS Announces Return With July Tournament

MLS will hold an “MLS is Back Tournament” as its return to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which suspended the season on March 12. The tournament will take place from July 8 to August 11, and feature 54 total matches. Every team will play at least three matches, while the two finalists will play a total of seven.

The tournament will be set up to mimic the World Cup, with the 26 teams being split into six groups to complete the opening stages. The tournament will not be the end of the season, but rather will contribute to the standings of the regular season, which will continue in a revised manner following the completion of the tournament. The MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup are still expected to take place after the season.

WHO Walks Back Comments On Asymptomatic COVID-19 Carriers

The World Health Organization has been doing damage control since an official suggested Monday that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 rarely spread the virus. The official clarified that the transmission rate from asymptomatic individuals is still “a major unknown,” though the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 40% of coronavirus transmissions occur before individuals feel sick.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor at Vanderbilt University and an adviser to the CDC, bristled at the WHO’s characterization of the danger of asymptomatic individuals, saying, “How do we inhibit transmission of the virus by these people who are doing their full range of normal activities? The answer is social distancing and wearing masks and good hand hygiene and stay away from crowds. That’s the formula.”

LPGA Cancels Evian Championship

The LPGA Tour announced on Tuesday that it will be cancelling the Evian Championship, the first significant women’s golf major of the year, because of the pandemic. The championship had been scheduled for August 6-9.

The LPGA has not held an event since the Australian Open in February. The ANA Inspiration, originally scheduled as the first women’s golf major of the year, has already been postponed until September, while the US Women’s Open has been pushed to December.

NCAA Plans To Extend College Football Preseason

The NCAA’s football oversight committee is expected to announce a plan later this week that would allow teams to conduct 12 walk-throughs in the 14 days before the typical preseason begins in August. The decision comes after most teams had their spring practice schedules completely undone by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has also been the first week that schools around the country have begun allowing players to return to campus for voluntary workouts. The NCAA has not yet established a standardized safety protocol for athletes, coaches, and trainers, instead leaving it up to each school to determine its own regulations for the time being. Many schools test every athlete before they are permitted to use university facilities, with positive tests already reported at Arkansas State, Marshall, and Oklahoma State.

Iowa, Louisville, and Ohio State are among the schools that have begun holding voluntary workouts.





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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Fairly soon, one of these articles will be titled “Round 19 of COVID-19 Negotiations”