MLB will allow ‘high-risk’ players to sit out 2020 season with pay

Angels OF Mike Trout jogs around bases
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 MLB season is on with players just days away from reporting for spring training on July 1 in preparation for Opening Day later that month. While most players will be taking the field this season, some will be allowed to stay at home and still receive pay.

MLB players at “high risk” for severe COVID-19 illness can sit out season

While a majority of MLB players are young and in great shape, there are plenty with medical conditions that put them at greater risk of severe illness or death if they contract COVID-19. Fortunately, under the deal for the 2020 season, there are protections in place.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, players who are medically determined to be high-risk individuals can sit out the 2020 season without penalty. As a result, they will receive their full pro rata pay based on the 60-game season and receive their full service time.

MLB has also created a COVID-19 Related Injured list, for any player who tests positive for the virus, has confirmed exposure to it or shows symptoms that require self-isolation.

The MLB Players Association and MLB agreed on a four-person committee to oversee all health matters, which will help settle any issues that arise, such as who is an at-risk person.

Can players with high-risk family members or pregnant spouses sit out?

While the plan looks out for players who contract the coronavirus or are at great risk, it seems to fall short for those with family members in a similar situation. According to The Athletic, any player who sits out the season because a family member is a high-risk individual is not guaranteed to receive their full pay or service time.

Notably, this could apply to New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Both players’ wives are due to give birth in a matter of months and would be considered at-risk persons.

MLB will grant them a three-day paid maternity leave and potentially a seven-day family emergency leave. If the player goes over that time, then it will be up to his team whether or not he is paid.