MLB Rumors: Rob Manfred May Shut Down 2020 Season If Outbreaks Continue
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

While Major League Baseball and the Players Association haggled for several weeks over the language in a March 26 agreement and an economic plan for the 2020 regular season, there was also the important factor of health and safety protocols in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

MLB was delayed in presenting a thorough manual to the MLBPA, which ultimately received guidelines that were more than 100 pages. Once negotiations fell apart for a final time, commissioner Rob Manfred moved to impose a 60-game schedule.

However, it was contingent on players agreeing to report for Summer Camp by July 1, and to sign off on the health and safety protocols. The 113-page operations manual has brought about sweeping changes but also faced scrutiny amid recent developments.

The Miami Marlins continue to deal with an outbreak in their organization, as 20 members (18 players) have tested positive. Two St. Louis Cardinals players were then said to have tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the trend prompted Manfred to warn MLBPA executive director Tony Clark that the sport could face a reality of needing to shut down:

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on Friday that if the sport doesn’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season, sources familiar with the conversation told ESPN.

Should another outbreak materialize, Manfred, who has the power to shut the season down, could move in that direction. Multiple players briefed on the call fear that season could be shut down as soon as Monday if positive tests jump or if players continue not to strictly abide by the league’s protocols.

Because of postponements related to the coronavirus, the Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals all were not playing Friday. The Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees have also needed to change their schedules as part of the collateral damage.

Dodgers confident in MLB protocols

The Dodgers are in the midst of their first road trip of the season, which began as news of the Marlins’ outbreak surfaced. Manager Dave Roberts and multiple players have nonetheless continued to voice confidence in the guidelines put in place.

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