After a couple weeks of radio silence on where the league stood in terms of a possible 2020 season — which, to be fair, is understandable given, well, *gestures at the entire world* — it’s been a busy couple of days on that front, so I’ll use today to catch us up on a few thing on the state of baseball in the near-term as we continue to make our way through this COVID situation.
League optimistic for some sort of 2020 season, may realign
Now, I think it’s fair to say the Major League Baseball has been fairly optimistic — or at least publicly they have — about a 2020 season happening pretty much this entire time. This feels a little bit different though. In the past, it has seemed more like wishful thinking and them wondering if they just wish really hard if that’d be enough to make their dreams come true. Now, there have been three separate reports within a couple days of each other about the league really gearing up for a 2020 season, which leads me to believe they are truly optimistic at this point and want to get that news out as much as possible. The reports came from Jeff Passan of ESPN, Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic and Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY.
There are a few similarities here between the three reports, with the main one being that the league is optimistic to get back to playing and thinks they’ll be able to do so at some point between mid-June and early July. The expectation if this were to come to fruition would be that teams could play an 80-100 game season and then play into November or early December, with playoff games being held in neutral locations. Passan also mentions the possibility of a giant 60-day tournament in lieu of a season, though that seems like a worst-case scenario.
The big question seems to be location, and there are still a few options for that. The Arizona plan is still on the table, though Rosenthal indicates that is the least desirable. He also alludes to a three-region plan with teams in Florida, Arizona and Texas, a possibility that was first reported by R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports. Then, there’s Nightengale’s report — which is also something alluded to by Rosenthal — that teams could actually play at their home parks, just without fans. Nightengale mentions a realignment to make three ten-team divisions which teams would exclusively play. The Red Sox would play with: the Yankees, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Blue Jays, Bay Rays, and Marlins. This plan would allow players to not have to live in a bubble and would cut down some on travel with teams just playing in their own relative region.
All of this ultimately comes down to public health, and none of this can happen if there is not widespread testing in place. I will not pretend to know the viability of any of this. I will say that I have been skeptical of all of these plans for the last month or so, but I’d be lying if I said that was based on any sort of expertise. The league does seem extremely motivated to get this done and they undoubtedly have, for whatever reason, a renewed sense of optimism. I hope they’re right.
MLB Draft likely to stay put in June
When the league and the players originally came together for their agreement in late March that included a deal that
totally screwed over amateur players cut down the number of round to between five and ten, it was also mentioned that the league was likely to push that back to some point in July. That no longer appears to be the case. Jon Heyman is reporting that they are going to stick with their original June 10 date, though it will of course be a little different. For one thing, they’ll be following the NFL’s lead with a work-from-home style event. Additionally, while they don’t know the number of rounds yet — it’s at the league’s discretion and can’t go lower than five or higher than ten — it certainly won’t be a three-day event. I would guess it’ll be two days, though a five-rounder could conceivably be done in one day I suppose.
Speaking of the draft, Jonathan Mayo and MLB Pipeline dropped a mock draft on Tuesday. The Red Sox will be picking 17th in this year’s event, and Mayo has Boston selecting pitcher Garrett Crochet out of the University of Tennessee. I would be lying if I said I had started to do my research on these players yet, though you can read Mayo’s quick report on the lefty by following that link above. We’ll have plenty of draft coverage to watch over the next six weeks or so.
Hall of Fame ceremony likely to be postponed
This one isn’t much of a surprise, and also comes from Nightengale. He is reporting that the ceremony to induct the latest class of Hall of Famers — Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and the late Marvin Miller — will likely be pushed back to 2021. This is a bummer and a huge blow to the small town up in Upstate New York who was expecting a massive crowd this summer, but ultimately it is the right decision. Not only do we not know what the restrictions would be on crowds at that point, but this will be a crowd that certainly skews older, particularly on stage as all of the living Hall of Famers make their way to the event. Instead, this class will likely be combined with next year’s in the summer of 2021, where Curt Schilling is expected to be the only player to make the cut.