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Play Ball! Players to report July 1. Here are all the details

Health protocols agreed. Season to start July 24.

Detroit Tigers Workouts Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Major league baseball players association agreed that players will report for Spring Training 2.0 on July 1st. When the announcement came that the players and owners had agreed to a set of health and safety protocols, it became official that there will be baseball in 2020, coronavirus permitting.

One of the final hurdles was cleared when MLB agreed to the players’ proposal in the health and safety protocol that all players who cohabitate with a high-risk individual, including a pregnant spouse, has the right to opt out and be paid with service time. Previously, it was only high-risk players themselves who could opt out and still be paid. The AngelsMike Trout and the PhilliesBryce Harper are two players whose wives are expecting.

Here are the details, as tweeted by Chris Cotillo, @jaysonst, @JonHeyman, @BNightengale, and Karl Ravech:


  • 60 game schedule
  • 10 games vs each division rival = 40 games,
  • plus 20 games vs 5 interleague teams in same region = 20 games
  • 10 teams in the playoffs, five in each league


  • July 1 reporting date
  • July 3 formal workouts begin
  • July 24 season starts
  • September 27 regular season ends
  • The trade deadline will be August 31st
  • To be eligible for postseason, players must be added to big-league roster by 9/15
  • The freeze on transactions that has been in place since March will be lifted Friday at noon


  • Games will be played in home ballparks when possible
  • Teams play their division rivals and interleague teams from the same geographical division
  • The Tigers will begin in Detroit, with Toledo as a possible alternate site
  • Clubs must stagger arrival times of players to avoid everyone arriving at once

Phase 1: Players divide into small groups (5ish), assigned times and areas of the complex

Phase 2: Larger group workouts, intra-squad games permitted

Phase 3: Limited number of exhibition games


  • Personnel will report in the following order:

Essential clubhouse personnel and support staff

Managers and coaches

Pitchers and catchers

Position players

  • Each team will have a list of 60 players who are eligible this season
  • 30 players on the major league roster for the first two weeks of the season
  • 28 players on the roster for the net two weeks
  • 26 players for the balance of the season
  • Up to 3 players from the taxi squad may travel with the team
  • Ron Gardenhire told the Detroit News that he expected Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal and Alex Faedo to be in that 60 player pool.
  • There has been talk of a player pool of unsigned players in Nashville

How Much?

  • Players will receive prorated salaries, equal to 37 percent if the season is completed
  • Players will receive a full season of service time if on the roster for a full season
  • Players on the “taxi squad” will receive minor league pay

New Rules

  • The designated hitter will be used by both leagues in 2020
  • Extra innings begin with a man on second base in the regular season, not in the playoffs
  • Pitchers must face three batters except when they finish an inning
  • There are no limits on position players pitching
  • Pitchers will have a wet rag in their pocket to avoid licking their fingers
  • No chewing tobacco or shells, no spitting. High fiving and hugging are discouraged
  • A player or manager coming within 6 feet of an umpire to argue a call could be suspended
  • Players will sanitize hands every half inning and wear masks in the dugout
  • Players may not arrive more than 5 hours before game time, nore stay longer than 90 minutes after a game
  • There will be a special Covid IL of indefinite duration

What’s next?

  • MLB will announce the complete schedule within 72 hours
  • The Tigers will play the Indians, Twins, Royals, White Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Reds, and Pirates.
  • Teams must set a 60-player pool of who is eligible to play by Sunday at 3pm
  • Teams determine alternate site where inactive guys go during season
  • Teams must pick who’s invited to big league camp. It doesn’t have to be all 60.
  • The commissioner may change the location of any games, or cancel games, or schedule games in a neutral venue, including the playoffs, as necessary.

What else?

Needless to say, all depends upon the coronavirus not destroying the season. Players are asked to report prior to July 1st for Covid Testing. They will be tested regularly and positive tests will be traced. The manual on health and safety protocols is said to be quite thick.

TV broadcasters will not travel, so home team will provide a neutral video feed, giving equal video time to both teams. Visiting team broadcasters will provide commentary remotely. Radio broadcasters may attend road games. (per Chris Costillo)

There may yet be some time for the two sides to agree on terms to pick up the money that they left on the table. Players could currently receive NO playoff pay since that is based on a percentage of gate receipts during playoff games. There were proposals for a $25 million or $50 million playoff pool for the players offered during the failed talks.

Owners sure would like to expand the playoffs to 16 teams and pick up an extra $100 to $125 million in added TV revenue. And many players could be playing for nothing all season, since they’ve already received advance pay close to their 37 percent prorated pay for the season. That $33 million advance forgiveness that the players left on the table was intended for them.

The Tigers’ payroll for the season is projected to be about $36,283,926. Miguel Cabrera will get $11.1 million and Jordan Zimmerman gets $9.25 million in the final season of his contract. Add another $6 million for the final payment to the Texas Rangers for Prince Fielder.

It seems like a win- win for the sides to agree to pick up this loose cash. Just don’t ask the players to give up their right to file a grievance. That ship sailed with “as many games as possible”.