Major League Baseball's team owners took a step Monday that could allow for there to be an abbreviated 2020 season.
According to RADIO.COM MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the owners of the league's 30 teams reached a deal Monday that they will send to the MLB Player's Association for approval.
Given that the season was scheduled to begin on March 26, playing a full season at this stage wasn't realistic. When you factor in that there will likely be some negotiations on this deal and that baseball will need to have a second preseason, playing even three-quarters of a normal 162-game regular season schedule was out of the question as well. Heyman says that the deal "calls for about a half-season of regular season games." That said, he acknowledges that without the MLBPA having yet seriously weighed in, that length isn't set in stone.
The MLBPA being able to reach a deal with the league isn't a fait accompli. Joel Sherman of The New York Post says that the league needs to find a way to make players feel comfortable with medical protocol and after that has to reach a compensation agreement with the MLBPA. Sherman says that the MLB wants to do revenue sharing as a means of player compensation in 2020. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported over the weekend that the MLBPA prefers a pro rata system that would pay each player a percentage of their salary based on how many games are ultimately in the regular season. Sherman adds that the MLBPA views a revenue-sharing system as "a non-starter."
As part of this plan, Sherman says that teams would only play against opponents in their geographic region. So, for example, the Los Angeles Dodgers would only play against teams in the National League West and the American League West. There's no indication that there will be realignment, as some proposed plans had called for, though.
Even without realignment, Sherman suggests there could be plenty of changes in the 2020 season. On top of an NBA-length regular season, the deal apparently would include a universal DH and would allow seven teams from each league to reach the playoffs, as opposed to the five that currently do.
Under this plan, Sherman notes that the tentative plan is for spring training to begin at some point in June, with a suggestion that early July could be a target date for opening day. All of this, of course, could change if there is another spike in COVID-19 rates and/or it takes a long time for MLB and MLBPA to reach an agreement.
Rosenthal says that MLB and MLBPA will meet Tuesday to begin discussing the deal. It's unclear how long reaching an agreement - assuming one can be reached - will take.
This story will be updated as we learn more about the agreement....