The calendar is slowly creeping toward MLB spring training and there’s still a lack of clarity on what the season will look like.
Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown first reported Sunday, citing sources, that the league has proposed a 154-game season to the MLB Players Association, one which would be delayed by about a month and extended by a week before expanded playoffs.
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported that spring training would start on March 22 and opening day would be on April 28. Pitchers and catchers usually report for spring training in the third week of February. The Athletic also reported the MLBPA is against the idea of expanding playoffs in fear it will lead to less competitive spending among owners.
So, what does this all mean for the Giants and A’s?
This limbo is getting close to the time players start ramping up their workouts for the season, so some firm deadlines would help everyone involved. The proposed timeline would also provide the front offices another month to make any roster additions.
San Francisco shored up its rotation with veteran signings Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood, while luring Tommy La Stella from Oakland via free agency and adding Curt Casali to back up Buster Posey at catcher. The Giants could still use some outfield depth and have been linked to Jackie Bradley Jr. and a few other players who signed elsewhere.
Oakland, meanwhile, hasn’t made any splashy moves this offseason, one that’s been marked by the departures of Liam Hendriks, Marcus Semien, Robbie Grossman and La Stella via free agency. Perhaps the A’s could land an everyday shortstop, second baseman or add to its rotation depth via free agency with the extended offseason.
The extra month would be beneficial for the Giants and Tyler Beede, who is trying to make a comeback to the rotation after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020. Reliever John Brebbia is also due back for the second half of the season in 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2020.
Likewise, A’s star Matt Chapman is recovering from September hip surgery and prized prospect A.J. Puk underwent shoulder surgery in September. The organization expected both players to be ready for normal spring training reporting dates, but a few extra weeks to build up strength can’t hurt.
Paring eight games off a 162-game slate isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but could take a start or two off the potential load for young pitchers like Beede, Puk and Jesus Luzardo late in the season. Batters will probably be upset that their stat totals will be deflated a bit in 2021 under the new proposal, but such is life during the pandemic.