SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday that the season will definitely not start April 9, and while there is no timetable for opening day, he remains hopeful of finding a way to assemble a full season.
“We’re not going to announce an alternate opening day at this point,’’ Manfred told theSt. Louis Post-Dispatch at Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Florida, after a conference call with all 30 team owners and club presidents. “We’re going to have to see how things develop. I think the commitment of the clubs is to play as many games in 2020 as we can, consistent with the safety of our players and our fans.”
In a statement released Monday, MLB said it will be complying with the CDC’s recommendations restricting events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks and “the opening of the 2020 regular season will be pushed back in accordance with that guidance.”
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Manfred said that he is urging players to leave spring-training sites, but the facilities will remain open for limited access. Teams will not be permitted to organize even informal workouts.
“We did agree with the MLBPA that spring training sites would remain open, but the thought there is with a skeleton crew,’’ Manfred said, “really to give players some place to use a gym as opposed to being forced out into a public gym and the like. We’re really encouraging players to make a decision where they want to be over an extended period of time and get to that location as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, as players were packing their belongings at spring-training facilities, the Major League Baseball Players Association sent out a memo Monday morning trying to answer questions and quell their fears.
The players were told that if they leave spring training, they will receive an $1,100 per week living allowance until at least April 9 from the players union, with the belief clubs will then start picking up expenses until the shutdown lasts.
It would cover only players on the 40-man roster and non-roster invitees who were free agents after last season and finished the 2019 season on a 40-man roster or injured list.
The union advised agents that clubs are still permitted to make roster additions, but it’s “possible a freeze may go into effect in the very near future.’’
The union is also trying to protect players with March opt-out clauses, trying to reach an agreement in which players with clauses dated March 13 or later would still be able to exercise their opt-outs once the preseason resumes.
MLB also sent a memo to teams prohibiting all scouting activity, both domestic and international. This means no tryouts (public or private), attending amateur games, showcases or workouts. Teams are also not permitted to have in-home or in-person visits.
In the meantime, negotiations will continue between the union and MLB officials on all major issues, listing:
- Conditions for resumption of play
- Amended scheduling
- Player salaries
- Major League service
- Contracts and transactions
- Core economics (revenue sharing, CBT, Debt Service Rule, etc.)
- Amateur signings (Rule 4 and International)
- Potential adjustments for collectively-bargained dates and deadlines.
The union is reminding everyone that the situation remains fluid, and changing by the day.