As part of the agreement between Major League Baseball and its Players Association on salary and service time issues while the start of the season is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the two sides have also agreed to certain conditions before they begin the season.
Those conditions, according to the part of the agreement obtained by ESPN's Jeff Passan, include:
The players and league agreed the 2020 MLB season won't begin until:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 27, 2020
- There are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans*
- There are no travel restrictions
- Medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans
The two sides will consider playing at neutral sites instead of home ballparks and while the preference is to play in front of fans, they haven't ruled out playing in empty stadiums, according to Passan's report.
MLB and MLBPA reached the deal Thursday night that would allow players to gain a year of service time even if the 2020 season is shortened or canceled, meaning Mookie Betts and the rest of the 2021 free agent class would still hit the open market if there's no season.
As to when those conditions for beginning the season will be met, it's anybody's guess. A full 162-game season seems a longshot at this point. The two sides want to play as many games as possible, perhaps by adding doubleheaders, extending the regular season into October with neutral-site playoff games in November or December.
The draft will be moved from June to late July, according to Passan. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred also has the option to shorten it to five rounds.