Baseball is back.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball and the players association hammered out the final health and safety protocols and set a schedule for the 2020 season. Players will return to spring training camp by July 1, and the 60-game regular season will start on July 24.
According to a statement by the MLBPA: "All remaining issues have been resolved and players are reporting to training camps."
Originally, MLB set a 5 p.m. deadline for the union to tell the league if players agreed to its health protocols and if players could report to spring training by July 1. The latter point was not a problem, but the two sides continued talking and negotiating beyond 5 p.m. to work out the safety aspect. At 8:41 p.m., the MLBPA confirmed a deal had been reached.
The league issued the following statement to announce the season, reiterating that healthy and safety remain "MLB's foremost priorities":
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) June 24, 2020
Here are the details of the agreement:
• The season will be 60 games long. 40 of those games will be against each team's division rivals, and the other 20 will be against the opposite league's same division. In the Pirates' case, that means they will play the American League Central.
Five teams from each league will make the postseason. The actual schedule should be completed within the next 72 hours.
• Rosters will be expanded to 30 players for the first 15 games of the season, 28 players until the 28th day and then the normal 26 the rest of the way. There will not be any September roster expansions.
• The National League will use the designated hitter for 2020. Pitchers will likely return to batting in 2021.
• Players who are considered a high-risk individual or live with one, including a pregnant partner, has the right to opt-out and be paid with service time. Since the shutdown, both Bryan Reynolds and Nick Burdi and their spouses have announced that they are expecting, meaning both have the right to opt-out of the season, if they so choose. Originally, MLB only offered to give players who were themselves high-risk the option to refuse to play and still get service time.
• There will be a trade deadline on Aug. 31. Players will have to be on the roster by Sept. 15 in order to be postseason eligible.
• Following Minor League Baseball's model, a runner will start on second base in extra-innings.
On Monday, the MLBPA rejected the league's 60-game offer, opting to instead continue operating under the March agreement. Using that March agreement, Rob Manfred implemented a 60-game season, which was unanimously passed by owners. That solved many of the issues both sides had been negotiating over, including players receiving full prorated pay and playoff structure. The final remaining points of the discussion were the report date and the protocols.
The Pirates will be holding spring training 2.0 at PNC Park, and Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona is the front runner as a secondary site for the taxi squad.
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