Major League Baseball took another step toward returning to the diamond Monday, when owners sent an approved plan for the 2020 season to the Players Association.
“The main thing is a revenue sharing plan, 50/50 split,” explained USA TODAY Sports MLB columnist Bob Nightengale. “Owners are saying, ‘We can’t give you a pro-rated salary because we’re going to miss the gate. We’re not going to have fans for probably most of the season and that’s at least a 40% drop off.’”
The players could balk at the proposal after agreeing to a pro-rated salary structure in March.
Nightengale sees negotiations lasting weeks, but believes both sides will figure out the finances and move ahead on a modified campaign.
“Too much incentive on both sides. No one is getting paid. It’s a $10.7 billion industry, that right now is zero dollars because no one is getting anything. I do believe that they’ll work out an agreement. I think it would look awful if there was no baseball after the public and health officials said, ‘It’s okay. Good to go.’ But they can’t agree on salary.”
An 82-game season would begin in early July, with expanded rosters and likely a universal DH.
Teams would only play regional opponents, and host games in their own ballparks, without fans. If local health restrictions don’t allow for that, clubs could play at their spring training complex, or share a park with another team.
But plenty of questions remain, including what happens if a player or coach tests positive for COVID-19?
“I don’t know specifics of that. I do know that if someone gets sick, they get quarantined. I think that’s why they’ll have a 20-man taxi squad. It’s not like they’re shutting down the whole team or the league is shutting down. Guys will be tested – see who else tests positive. They’ll be around health officials all the time. They’ll be tested constantly. There’s going to be things in place that if someone does test positive, the games can still go on.”
For now, the focus is just getting games going at all.