Tuesday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association finalized an agreement to report to camp on July 1 for a 60-game season beginning either July 23 or 24.
After months of negotiations, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred implemented a season on Monday after the players union rejected a proposal earlier that day which allowed Manfred to exercise MLB’s right granted in a previous agreement to set the schedule and pay players their full prorated pay.
The last deliberations were over health and safety protocols and the final point agreed upon was that any players who cohabitate with a high-risk individual have the right to opt-out of the season but still be paid with service time, reported USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
One of the other guidelines said, “Players on opposite teams should not socialize, fraternize, or come within six feet of each other before the game, during warm-ups, in-between innings, or after the game,” Nightengale tweeted Tuesday evening.
The season is set to begin either July 23 or 24 and will end on Sept. 27 with a trade deadline of Aug. 31. 10 teams will clinch a playoff berth at the end of the regular season and will play to determine a World Series champion.
The schedule was sent to MLBPA Tuesday evening for approval and a statement released from MLB said that non-divisional play will largely consist of games against teams with regional proximity to reduce travel.
Previous safety guidelines agreed upon by both sides will institute a designated hitter for clubs leaguewide, meaning National League teams will pencil in a DH to their batting order for the first time. Regular-season games that go to extra innings will have a baserunner start on second base starting in the 10th inning in hopes of avoiding 15-plus-inning marathons with 60 games scheduled in a roughly 65-day timeline.
Also new this year, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported there will be a COVID-19-related injured list although there will be no time limit like other injured lists.
“While the regular injured list will be for 10 days in 2020, MLB is expected to institute a special COVID-19-related injured list for players who test positive, have confirmed exposure or are exhibiting symptoms,” Passan tweeted Tuesday evening.
The news of the sport’s return was reported alongside COVID-19 breakouts in teams across the league, just days after three clubs had to close camp after players tested positive. The Houston Astros had a report of an unnamed player testing positive several days before the news that broke on June 19 at the spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.
MLB was one of the last professional sports leagues coming to terms on resuming a season but other athletes in the NHL, NFL and NBA have been reportedly testing positive for COVID-19 in recent days as well.