Major League Baseball and the Players Association are in their second week of negotiating terms on a modified season that would begin in early July and wrap up sometime in late October or early November. On Thursday, the union formally responded to the league’s 67-page safety and testing protocol proposal with some potential modifications.
According to Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, the union’s counter-proposal included notes on testing frequency, protections for high-risk players and their families, and sanitization protocols. Joel Sherman of the New York Post, meanwhile, tweeted that players were hoping for alterations that would enable them to shower at stadiums and to access hydrotherapy and other preparation and recovery tools that the league’s proposal had prohibited due to the risk of infection.
It should be noted that the league’s proposal was considered a “first draft.” The union’s response, then, represents the next step in the process, and some potential progress. (You can read more about the league’s safety proposal, including how the league intends to handle travel and clubhouse design, by clicking here.)
The health provisions imposed to protect players and other essential personnel are considered one of the two main hurdles the two sides must clear in order for a season to occur. The other is player compensation, with owners hoping that players will agree to an amended deal that will see revenues split evenly this year. The union has publicly pushed back against that idea.
Earlier in the week, San Diego Padres catcher and union rep Austin Hedges said that he was optimistic about an agreement being reached. Hedges acknowledged that players will likely have to accept another pay reduction (they agreed to play for prorated salaries in March, at the beginning of the shutdown).
MLB was originally supposed to launch its season on March 26. Alas, MLB was forced to hit pause two weeks prior by the spread of the novel coronavirus.