MLB, Players Union Reach Agreement on How 2020 Season Will Play Out

There were no games on Opening Day, but Major League Baseball apparently has a plan on how to proceed once the season is able to continue. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the league and players union have agreed to a deal that will govern the 2020 season in whatever form it takes. The players have reportedly voted already and the owners are expected to ratify the deal Friday.

Service time had been the big sticking point from the start, but Passan reports that players will receive credit for a full season even in the event of a total cancellation. Though he didn’t spell out the specifics, it’s assumed that the agreement follows the report from Ken Rosenthal that players would receive the same service time in 2020 that they accrued in 2019.

As a part of the agreement, the 2020 draft can be shortened to only five rounds and international free agency can be postponed to January of 2021. Additionally, the 2021 draft can be trimmed to 20 rounds and the subsequent IFA period can be pushed back. There’s a lot of leeway in here and it’s hard to know exactly how it’ll play out, so keep an eye out for which direction the owners end up taking.

Passan also reported that arbitration rules will be amended so that players aren’t hurt by putting up counting stats that would look awful in comparison to previous seasons. That seems like a really basic idea, but the arbitrators who handle the cases that make it to the negotiating table are not necessarily operating with greater context for the game. The real question is what happens to arb-eligible players if the season is cancelled, since they’ll have no stats at all.

More than any of the individual details of this agreement, the real key is that both sides worked together to create a solution that made sense for everyone involved. This is a unique situation and it appears as though owners and players alike recognized the need to make concessions in service of the greater good.

Now let’s just hope there’s a season to be played.

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