The biggest news of the past week came on Thursday night, when Major League Baseball and Major League Players Association came to a tentative agreement that would clear the way for a 2020 season. The two parties agreed to terms concerning key economic issues such as player service time and this summer’s amateur draft.
In regards to service time, the season will count the same as a normal 162-game schedule regardless of the actual number of games played, and if the season is canceled players will accrue the same amount of service time earned in 2019. One of the major ramifications of this agreement is that most players on the final year of their current deals will become free agents after this summer even if they do not play a single game.
Sources: MLB & the MLB Players Association have the framework of an agreement that could be finalized as soon as today. Discussed terms on the draft:— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) March 26, 2020
- A draft sometime in July
- Likely 10 rounds, possibly 5
- Bonus deferment: 10% upfront, 45% in July '21, 45% in July '22
On the amateur draft front, the number of rounds is expected to be reduced to at most 10 rounds and possibly as few as five, with the event being held in July while deferring all signing bonuses except for 10 percent which the players will receive upfront; the other two payments of 45 percent will disburse in July of 2021 and 2022.
As of Friday morning, there have also been rumors that the regular-season rosters this year will be expanded to 29 players instead of the recently-increased amount of 26 for the first month when play resumes, according to Bob Nightengale.
When #MLB is able to start their season, teams are expected to expand their rosters from 26 players to 29 players the first month they begin playing games.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 27, 2020
The balance of the scales in this tentative agreement appears to tip in favor of the league, but the players are surely anxious to get back on the field and resume the game once the novel coronavirus dust clears. Hopefully, there will still be baseball this summer, and Thursday evening’s news is a major step in that direction.
Train back to Detroit
In the meantime as fans await the resumption of the 2020 baseball season, Tigers players are making their way to Detroit, but not in the manner that they had expected coming into spring training. With the complex at Lakeland essentially shut down for the spring, those who were expected to make the opening day roster are making their way back to the D.
Ron Gardenhire said only "skeleton crew" left in Lakeland, most everyone has gone home.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) March 25, 2020
"We're just all waiting to see how it ends up. It's a weird situation. I don't think there's anything where you can look at and say, 'Well we've been here before.'"
Matthew Boyd is one of those players heading to Detroit with his family to return to their in-season home, as their home in Seattle was not an option given the intensity of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Pacific Northwest city. It has yet to be seen what his and the rest of the Tigers’ next move will be as the situation continues to unfurl.
Tigers on the rookie radar
MLB Trade Rumors released its Rookie Radar for the American League Central Division on Tuesday, which included a lot of familiar names for the Tigers. The article had the following to say about the 2020 prospect crop.
The Detroit organization is banking on its pitching factory. We’ll begin to see the results in the immediate future. Top starting prospects Matt Manning, Casey Mize, Beau Burrows, and Alex Faedo are all nearing readiness. And the team also has some promising relievers on tap, including Bryan Garcia, Anthony Castro, and perhaps Rule 5 choice Rony Garcia. Precisely when and how these arms will be slotted into the MLB staff remains to be seen. In the starting staff, especially, the organization has others in line first. But mid-season movement is highly possible (depending, in no small part, upon what shape the 2020 season takes).
Though the position-player side of the farm isn’t as loaded, there are quite a few near-term candidates for MLB roles. Infielders Isaac Paredes, Willi Castro, and Sergio Alcantara all have 40-man spots and can be called upon as soon as there’s a need or desire to do so. Ditto outfielder Daz Cameron, a player who has had ups and downs in the minors but still possesses a fairly lofty ceiling. Catcher Jake Rogers had an abysmal debut with the bat but hit well in the upper minors last year and is considered a quality defender.
Lakeland is No. 1 among Grapefruit League venues
If you have never been to Publix Joker-Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., you have been missing out on the crown jewel of the Grapefruit and Florida State Leagues.
For the second year in a row, the site of the Tigers’ player development headquarters has earned the top honor for Florida ballparks during spring training, as announced in Ballpark Digest on Monday. While the stadium opened in 1966, Detroit and Lakeland have maintained their spring partnership now for over a hundred years — the longest such tenure of any team in Major League Baseball.
It is a bittersweet victory for a venue and community that has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Wash with Schoop
Killing one bird with one ball
19 years ago today, Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson killed a bird with a baseball. pic.twitter.com/0zmCLMjEyT— Prime Time Sports Talk (@TalkPrimeTime) March 24, 2020
- Build your own classic Detroit Tigers infield: While the MLB season continues to be postponed there have been much to keep fans occupied on social media.
- Build your own classic Detroit Tigers outfield: You’ve already selected your infield in our previous post, now here’s your chance to fill in your outfield.
- Build your own classic Detroit Tigers pitching staff: With the infield and the outfield now covered, it’s time to turn our attention to the pitching staff.
- Best-loved Detroit Tigers bracket: Round One, part one: The first four of thirty-two contenders, are you ready?
- Best-loved Detroit Tigers bracket: Round One, part two: We haven’t even gotten to the really tough ones yet.
Around the horn
Baseball Prospectus takes a look at Carter Stewart’s progress in Japan. Jay Jaffe on FanGraphs discusses how the recent Baseball-Reference WAR update affects his JAWS system. David Bednar, Brandon Brennan, and Tony Gonsolin talk about their change and split pitches. 2020 Tokyo Olympics officially postponed until 2021 at very least. The latest news on baseball in Korea and Japan. Get your baseball fix live from Korea.