The commissioner’s office and the MLB Players Association are reportedly negotiating changes to service time and the 2020 draft–including a possible elimination–as the sport continues to grapple with a season already heavily impacted by the novel coronavirus.
According to AP, changes to service time and the draft are just a few of many issues under discussion. Both sides, somewhat, are negotiating in the dark, with neither side knowing when the season will start, how long it could run, and to what extent fans will return. On the issue of service time, for example, MLB is reportedly proposing 130 games constituting a year of service, while the union is reportedly countering that a year of service should be granted no matter the number of games.
MLB is also proposing either scaling back or even eliminating the annual amateur draft. Eliminating the amateur draft would save MLB teams about $400 million, money that could be used to cover offseason expenses. The draft is an open issue: with the NCAA scrapping the baseball season and expected to extend college eligibility to 2020 seniors, it’s impossible to say right now what college players are available for draft, and with no 2020 season to evaluate both college and high-school players, the feeling is that the draft could be too speculative. (Yes, this is exceedingly ironic coming from MLB, which has hold MiLB there’s no reason for short-season leagues because MLB is so good at scouting they already know who’s a great prospect.)
How much money would be advanced and which players the money would go to are also a part of the negotiation. Advances could go to the entire 40-man roster or a subset.
Also under discussion is the union’s desire to have players receive allowance money, even if they have returned home from spring training.
Among the other issues are adjusting salaries, luxury tax rules, revenue sharing and performance bonuses thresholds in the event of a season of fewer than 162 games, and relaxing schedule and roster rules.
Getting money to players with minor league contracts, who are not covered by the union, is likely to be decided later by MLB.
Right now it looks like the earliest the MLB season could start is Memorial Day, but that’s still an optimistic scenario.
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