It’s actually happening. Major League Baseball will have a season in 2020. After months of negotiations, MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed on a 60-game season.
The shortened season includes multiple rule changes and safety protocols that teams and players must follow to limit the spread of COVID-19. All 30 teams are scheduled to report to training camp on July 1st. The regular season is set to begin July 23rd and 24th. The season is expected to run until September 27th, with the postseason beginning September 29th and running until the end of October. The MLB trade deadline is scheduled for August 31st.
There have been a lot of rules changes for this upcoming season which include, the implementation of a universal designated hitter, meaning NL teams must use a DH in their lineups, each inning after the ninth will start with a runner on second base. That runner will be the batter in the lineup immediately preceding that inning’s leadoff hitter, pitchers can use a “wet rag” to keep their fingers moist in lieu of licking their fingers, and each relief pitcher must face at least three batters. These rules have been implemented by Major League Baseball and its commissioner, Rob Manfred, to play in a safe environment.
Players and staff must also be tested for COVID-19 three or four days prior to their arrival at training camp. They all must have their temperatures and symptoms checked daily, the saliva nose swab must be completed every other day, and blood should be tested for antibodies prior to training camp and the start of the season.
Any player or staff member who tests positive or has a temperature above 100.4 degrees must self-isolate themselves immediately. Those who test positive must have two subsequent negative tests at least 24 hours apart before being allowed to return.
The lack of a deal between MLB and the MLB Players Association led to the league imposing a schedule, as was its right in a March 26th agreement that also guaranteed players a fully prorated portion of their salaries. MLB on Monday told the union it planned to impose a schedule as long as the players would report to training camp by July 1st and codify a health and safety manual that runs more than 100 pages. The players agreed to both.
Players and staff members will start traveling to training campsites most of which will be held in home stadiums for a July 1st check-in. Rosters will unfreeze Friday afternoon, leading to potential trades and free-agent signings. If all goes well over the following three weeks, baseball will be back for a scheduled 60 games in 66 days, a season shorter than any the sport has known.