According to reports, MLB clubs have started encouraging players to prepare for a mid-June “spring training” as the league prepares to deliver its return-to-play proposal to the MLB Players Association within a week.
At this stage, baseball is aiming for an Opening Day in early July.
Officials spanning several industries are calling those target dates overly optimistic, seeing as how Major League Baseball still faces many obstacles, including receiving approval from government bodies, health officials, and more.
However, baseball will make significant strides toward its return if the MLB can surpass two obstacles this week:
- Finalizing a plan for a return with ownership approval.
- Opening a dialogue about the specifics of said plan with the players union.
If the MLB can accomplish those two goals this week, it would give itself about a full month to solidify its plan for a return, and to seek the final approvals it would need.
According to reports, players and agents have heard from general managers and managers of at least a dozen teams with a message to begin ramping up baseball activities in preparation for a return.
Based on the fact that baseball has been forced into a six-week delay by the coronavirus pandemic, a July start would give the MLB a season spanning somewhere between 80 and 100 games.
League, Players Seek Common Ground With Home Stadiums
While many around the league are optimistic about baseball’s official return with a June “spring training” and a July Opening Day, the MLB’s return-to-play proposal isn’t expected to be widely accepted by all players.
Despite an agreement between the league and union in which the players have agreed to be paid prorated salaries based on the number of games played, ownership is pushing for deeper pay cuts in the wake of baseball’s impending return without fans. The players have pushed back against such demands.
Players also want answers from the league on several topics, including what risks the players will face under baseball’s plan for a return, what would happen if some players chose to sit out the 2020 season out of health concerns, and what will happen if a player tests positive after the league’s return.
There appears to be plenty of areas in which the league and players are still far apart. Still, both parties are seeking common ground by way of opting to play games at home stadiums, which is apparently preferred over the original idea of quarantining all players in three to five cities within Arizona.
For now, it’s believed that players will be much more receptive to a plan in which they’ll be able to play half their games at home, meaning they won’t have to leave their families for months.
At this point in the proceedings, all parties are expected to opt for a shortened season rather than one that extends into November based on fears of a “second wave” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Familiar Faces Expected to Contend for World Series
While this year’s return to Major League Baseball is anything but familiar, the teams currently favored to compete for a World Series title certainly are.
Marred by the organizations cheating scandal, which resulted in a championship, the Astros are projected to be one of the best teams in the American League. To win it all, Houston is sitting on odds of +900.
Only two teams own better odds than the Astros, both of which sit at +300. The Yankees, boosted by the acquisition of Gerrit Cole, are expected to be the best team in the AL, and the Dodgers are currently heavy favorites in the National League.
It’s currently unclear what effect a shortened season may have on betting odds moving forward.