Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have finalized a deal that addresses both salary and service-time issues, among others, as the entire sport continues to wait out the coronavirus pandemic.
With no start date set for the 2020 season, the two sides had been negotiating for the past couple weeks in an effort to figure out how to handle the potential for a shortened season.
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Both MLB and the MLBPA are committed to playing as many regular-season games as possible, leaving open the possibility of the schedule going into October and the postseason being played into November.
No agreements were made regarding the schedule, but given the current uncertainty, the deal leaves enough flexibility for the two sides to work together toward that shared goal. Both MLB and the MLBPA have formed subcommittees to continue discussing any unresolved issues related to the 2020 season.
The Commissioner’s Office will put together a schedule at the appropriate time, then the union will have input before it is finalized. The postseason format could also be altered for 2020, including the prospect of some games being played at neutral sites.
Players will, however, collect prorated service time based on the number of days on the roster or injured list. A regular year of service time is 172 days, so regardless of how many games are played in 2020, a player who is on the roster or IL for the entirety of the season will accrue 172 days of service time.
In the absolute worst-case scenario of a canceled season, players will receive the same service time they did in 2019, which would allow players who are one year or less from free agency — a group that includes Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto — to become free agents next fall no matter what.
All suspensions of 80-or-fewer games will be served in 2020 if games are played. Should the season be canceled, those suspensions would not carry over to 2021.
The union voted to accept the deal Thursday, while the owners voted unanimously Friday to ratify the deal.
All transactions are frozen as of Friday until a date to be determined by both MLB and the union. Roster expansion was not included in the agreement, but the issue will be discussed by the two sides between now and the start of the season.
As part of the agreement, MLB has the right to move the 2020 Draft past its currently scheduled date of June 10, but no later than July 20. The Draft can also be reduced to a minimum of five rounds, though MLB can choose to have anywhere from five to 40 rounds.
MLB will have the right to run a combine for amateur players in both 2020 and 2021 if the league determines it makes sense to do so.
Drafted players will receive no more than $100,000 of their signing bonuses up front, receiving 50 percent of the remainder by July 1, 2021, and the other 50 percent by July 1, 2022. Undrafted players will be able to receive no more than $20,000 as a signing bonus.
Signing bonus values will remain at their 2019 level in both 2020 and 2021, according to terms of the new deal. MLB can also reduce the 2021 Draft to as few as 20 rounds.
As a result of the deal, the start of the international signing period may also be delayed from July 2, 2020, to as late as Jan. 15, 2021, while next year’s international signing period can also be pushed back. Teams will also not be allowed to trade Draft picks or international bonus slots in 2020 or 2021.