MLB Asks Players Association To Approve Spring Training 2.0 Start Date, Agree To Health & Safety Protocols
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred speaks at the 2019 Winter Meetings
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox

With the Major League Baseball Players Association voting to reject the 60-game proposal they received last week, it shifted the focus back onto commissioner Rob Manfred and the likelihood he would impose a 2020 season as agreed to on March 26.

“Today, the Major League Baseball Players Association informed us that they have rejected the agreement framework developed by Commissioner Manfred and Tony Clark. Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development,” MLB said in a statement.

The league also made it clear they intend to proceed with setting a schedule, as team owners unanimously approved doing such. But they first are seeking cooperation from the MLBPA on a start date for Spring Training 2.0 and with health and safety protocols.

“In order to produce a schedule with a specific number of games, we are asking that the Players Association provide to us by 5:00 p.m. (ET) tomorrow with two pieces of information,” MLB’s statement explained.

“The first is whether players will be able to report to camp within seven days (by July 1st). The second is whether the Players Association will agree on the Operating Manual which contains the health and safety protocols necessary to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason.”

With MLB heading down the path of Manfred imposing a season, a universal designated hitter is only guaranteed to be in place for this season, rather than 2020 and 2021. Furthermore, this season will not see an expanded postseason field, which team owners were strongly behind.

Assuming MLB and the MLBPA manage to agree on health and safety protocols in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — Manfred recently indicated the sides were close — the majority of teams would hold camps at home ballparks.

Spring Training facilities were recently ordered closed for deep cleaning due to multiple cases of organizations having players test positive for the contagious virus. That reality may also complicate matters for an agreement on new health guidelines, along with completing the season.

Although MLB quickly abandoned the idea of having all 30 teams report to Arizona due to negative feedback, the league is now believed to be considering Southern California for a potential bubble location.

The 2020 MLB season is expected to be 60 games, with Opening Day in late July.

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