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MLB Roundup 2/9: MLB, MLBPA agrees on 2021 health and safety protocols

And Yadi stays put.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cuban National Team - Major League Baseball En La Habana

MLB, MLBPA agree on health and safety protocols

It’s no secret that negotiations between MLB and MLBPA have been a mess for most of this offseason as the league has tried to change the CBA which is already in place while the players have refused to open discussions back up on things like the expanded postseason and delayed season start dates. With those sorts of issues put aside, the two sides were able to come up with their health and safety protocols for the upcoming season. As expected neither expanded playoffs nor universal DH are included in the package.

As far as what is included, well, it’s not going to be very popular. The two headliners are carry-overs from last year and parts of the 2020 season that many look back on with the most disdain. One is seven-inning double headers, and the other is starting extra innings with a runner on second base. I will start by saying I get the logic here at least, which is not the same as saying I like it. But this season could go off the rails with pitcher injuries if things aren’t managed carefully after last season’s short summer. Finding ways to keep arms at least a little more fresh through the long season makes sense.

That said, I really don’t like these rules. The runner on second base, I will admit, was not quite as bad as I thought it would be, but I’d still prefer not having it to having it. If there’s really an issue with long extra inning games — I think they’re rarer than we think, but I agree June games going 15 innings probably isn’t necessary — just call it a tie after 12 innings. I’d personally prefer that to the runner on second. And as for the seven-inning doubleheaders, I like it as someone who has to cover those games. Doubleheaders can be long. But I also don’t think the league should care what I think on that front. Seven innings isn’t baseball. With these rules in place two years in a row, I’m worried they’ll become permanent in the next CBA.

Beyond those two pieces, the other thing to know is that roster sizes will be as they were expected to be prior to COVID, which is to say teams will have 26 players for most of the season until rosters expand to 28 in September. I have not seen whether or not there will be a limit on the number of pitchers a team can carry. Again, prior to COVID there was supposed to be a 13-pitcher limit. Given the concern about fresh arms discussed above, I wouldn’t be surprised if that part was scrapped for this year as well, though that is just speculation.

Yadier Molina returns to St. Louis

Really not much to say about this one, as it was assumed to be happening by just about everyone. But now we know for sure it is happening, as Yadier Molina has indeed agreed to return to the Cardinals on a one-year deal. There’s really no Red Sox impact with this move, so I’ll be extremely brief here and just say that this had to happen, especially after Adam Wainwright re-signed earlier in the winter. There aren’t many, if any, players who would look as wrong in a different uniform than Molina with the Cards.