It took the better part of a week; but the MLB Players Union responded to the leagues latest proposed COVID-19 safety measures on Thursday afternoon.
“The union has spent the past several days carefully reviewing the manual and gathering feedback from its medical experts and players across the league, including a 3 ½-hour video conference with 100-plus player leaders on Monday night,” said an MLBPA official.
The response is part of an ongoing dialogue surrounding an MLB season potentially beginning in July but still wrapping up by November. MLB proposed restrictions on a number of details both big and small; so to understand the player’s response we must first look at the proposal.
In an attempt to cover all of its bases, Major League Baseball addressed a great deal of safety concerns that would accompany any kind of start up plan.
Some of the measures are obvious and easy, such as eliminating the pregame tradition of exchanging lineup cards. The same information can be shared electronically without any need to breach social distancing practices. Another clear rule is requiring masks for managers and coaches; who spend most of their time in the more confined space of the dugout.
Then there are some less obvious lengths the league went to as well; by suggesting the banning of team mascots, signs that involve touching the face and even spitting. Off of the field the proposal suggests players shower and change at their homes before and after games; and prohibits teams eating at restaurants while on the road.
“We emphasize that this is a first draft, and will undergo several rounds of changes as we collect comments and suggestions from the clubs, the players’ association, players, and government officials,” said MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem in an email to teams.
- testing frequency
- protocols for positive tests
- in stadium medical personnel
- protections for high risk players and their families
- access to pre and postgame therapies
- sanitization protocols
But even if the two sides are able to come to an agreement over player and personnel safety; there still remains the major issue of player compensation. The players have agreed to one pay cut so far for the extreme circumstances; pro-rating their yearly salary to however many games are actually played.
But when league owners later proposed a 50/50 split of league revenue in another potential plan for the season; Blake Snell said he wouldn’t play if forced to reduce his pay further. While some criticized him for complaining about money while on a eight figure salary; the other side of the room argues the millionaire players shouldn’t need to bail out the billionaire owners.
No official deal has been proposed by either side for a payment plan; but its likely quite a bit of haggling will happen before anything is agreed to.