Almost two months after Major League Baseball indefinitely suspended the start of its 2020 season, MLB owners took the first significant step on Monday towards bringing baseball back.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, team owners approved MLB’s proposal to tentatively start the 2020 season in early July. Following Monday’s vote, the plan will now be sent to the players’ union for a vote to take place on Tuesday.
It marks a significant step towards the potential for baseball to return this summer under a plan that MLB has worked on for weeks.
When will MLB season start?
If the plan receives approval from the players and the medical community, which remains a major hurdle, MLB would move forward with targeting early July to start the 2020 season. Under the current proposal, MLB would target an 82-game schedule.
MLB could potentially have four three-games series for teams against each of their divisional opponents. MLB would limit travel, so clubs only face teams from within their geographic area. As an example, NL West teams would play four games against each of their divisional opponents and could play two three-games series against each AL West opponent.
Where will MLB teams play?
After MLB’s original plan for all teams going to play in Arizona received significant pushback, the league turned its focus to more normalcy with teams staying in their region. The proposal allows for teams to open in as many home parks as guidelines allow.
Any clubs that are unable to open in their home stadiums would temporarily relocate to their spring-training facilities or move to another MLB park within their region.
However, several states could be limited to playing in empty stadiums. California’s governor also announced similar guidelines for teams in the state until a vaccine is ready. As a result, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels might play in empty stadiums.
MLB Playoffs in a shortened season
According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, MLB’s plan tentatively plans on aiming for the postseason to take place in October at home fields.
The playoffs would expand to seven teams in each league, creating more playoff matchups and games to generate revenue through television broadcasts.
The team with the best record in the AL and NL would automatically advance to the Division series. The remaining two division winners and top wild-card team would face the bottom three wild-card teams in a best-of-three series.
Impact on MLB’s revenue
According to USA Todays Bob Nightengale, MLB owners are offering 50% of the league’s revenue, but will require players to take more significant pay cuts. The request will receive significant pushback from players, who already agreed to receive pro-rated salaries in a shortened season.
After generating more than $10 billion in revenue from the 2019 season, the league expects it could lose 40% of its revenue if the season is played without fans in the seats. As a result, MLB owners have argued players must take further cuts to their salary given the stadiums will be empty.
MLB roster expansion
According to Sherman, MLB’s plan will expand to 30-man rosters for the upcoming season with a 20-man taxi squad available to each team.
By expanding the roster sizes and introducing the designated hitter to the NL, it would give teams additional lineup and roster flexibility in an altered season.