After numerous proposals, intense negotiations and scares of the possibility of no season at all, MLB will officially hit the mound in 2020.
The agreement comes close to three months after the regular season was supposed to initially launch before COVID-19 shut down sports (March 26).
The deal became official Tuesday when the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) informed the league that players would comply with the season outline drawn out by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. Health and safety protocols were also worked out and agreed to by the players Tuesday evening. Health and safety protocols signed off on by the players include daily temperature screenings, social distancing, no celebratory contact (including that of hugs and high-fives) and no spitting or chewing of tobacco or sunflower seeds.
Both sides have agreed to report for a second “Spring Training” slated to begin July 3, with players arriving no later than July 1 for COVID-19 testing. “Spring Training 2.0” would then take place over the span of three weeks. Opening Day is slated for July 23 or July 24.
The regular season will span 60 games. Salaries for the players over the 60 games will be full pro-rata, which means players will make 37% of their normal salary as long as the season is completed. Divisional alignment will remain the same. To limit travel, teams will play opponents within their geographical region in addition to teams within their division. Teams will play 10 games each against opponents in their own division and 20 games against teams in interleague play. The regular season will end September 27.
The postseason format will not feature expansion and will have only 10 teams vie for the Commissioner’s Trophy at the start of the postseason. Postseason formats and lengths will remain the same as they would in past seasons.
Rule changes for the 2020 season include a universal designated hitter across both leagues. The rule will tentatively be in place for only the 2020 season. Additionally, an automatic baserunner will be put on second base after the ninth inning for the 2020 regular season. The rule will only be in place for the regular season and not the postseason.
A trade deadline will also be implemented during the season. The deadline will be August 31 and players traded will be eligible for postseason play as long as they are on the active roster by September 15.
The Injured List for position players and pitchers will be the same this season. The 60-day IL will be reduced to 45. Additionally, a COVID-19 IL will be implemented with no minimum or maximum length of placement.