Health-and-safety talks between MLB and the players association went more than three hours past the deadline imposed by the league. But on Tuesday evening, the MLBPA announced the news on Twitter: “All remaining issues have been resolved and Players are reporting to training camps.”
All remaining issues have been resolved and Players are reporting to training camps.— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 24, 2020
Among the changes made, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported, players with pregnant spouses can go on the three-day paternity list, and in the case of a family emergency players can take up to seven days of paid time off. If the player asks for more time than that, his club can decide whether to pay him for additional games missed.
The players association reportedly proposed in earlier negotiations for players who cohabitate with a high-risk individual to have the choice to opt out of the season and still receive pay. The league had only extended that protection to players who were themselves considered at high risk.
Under those proposed rules, Mike Trout, one of baseball’s biggest stars, would have qualified to earn a paycheck if he decided to opt out of the season. He and his wife Jessica are expecting their first child in August. Two months ago, when MLB was still considering playing the season in one location, he spoke about how hard it would be for players to leave their families for extended periods of time.
“What am I going to do if she goes into labor?” he told NBC Sports. “Am I going to quarantine for two months after I get back? Because obviously I can’t miss the birth of our first child.”
.@miketrout wants MLB to come back soon as possible, but brings up a number of issues that would have to be worked out logistically before baseball returns in any fashion. #LunchTalkNBCSN pic.twitter.com/TdPfIVI8Jp— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 15, 2020
The situation has changed since then. Teams are scheduled to play in their home cities. And under the final protocols, Trout is reportedly guaranteed only a few paid days off for the birth of his first child.
The health-and-safety protocols also require players on opposing teams to stay six feet from one another before and after the game, and in between innings, according to Nightengale. Players will be asked to limit their time at the ballpark and will only be able to arrive within five hours of the game and leave within 90 minutes after.
Players and managers must also remain six feet away from umpires, The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham reported, and those who don't are subject to suspension.
There will be a separate injured list for those who test positive for COVID-19, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported. The players would not spend a specified number of days on the COVID-19 injured list. There will also be a 10-day IL and 45-day IL for other injuries, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
If necessary, MLB will be able to relocate teams to neutral sites to address health and safety concerns, according to Nightengale.
"The health and safety of players and employees will remain MLB’s foremost priorities in its return to play," the league said in a release. "MLB is working with a variety of public health experts, infectious disease specialists and technology providers on a comprehensive approach that aims to facilitate a safe return."
Opening Day: July 23 or 24— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 24, 2020
Season: 60 games
Location: Home ballparks
Health and safety: "MLB's foremost priorities" pic.twitter.com/PWOu9GolDh
More details of the newly agreed upon health-and-safety protocols had yet to be made public at the time of the announcement, but more are expected to be released in the coming days.
The Tuesday deadline for the health-and-safety agreement had seemed ambitious in the first place.
On Monday evening, the league said in a statement that it was giving the players association until 4 p.m. CT to answer two questions: will players be able to report to camp by July 1, and will the MLBPA agree on the health and safety protocol outlined in the operating manual?
MLB said it needed those two pieces of information “to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason.” According to multiple reports, the league’s decision to implement a 60-game season was contingent on the players agreeing to both.
On Tuesday, a half an hour past the deadline, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the two sides were still discussing health and safety protocols, but with “no major snags.” About wo hours later, MLB and MLBPA had finalized the protocols.
Health-and-safety negotiations began back in May, when MLB reportedly delivered a 67-page document on the subject to the players association.
It laid out a testing plan that would have players screened for COVID-19 multiple times a week and their temperatures taken much more frequently. It detailed a staggered spring training ideally separated between multiple sites for each team.
It limited contact between players by banning high fives, fist bumps and hugs. It sought to cut down on the amount of spit in the air and on the ground by prohibiting chewing tobacco and sun flower seeds.
The players responded days later with notes on testing frequency and protocols, protections for high-risk players and family members, access to injury prevention and treatment therapies, and on-site medical personnel, to name a few.
But once MLB handed its first economic proposal to the players, health and safety discussions faded out of public discussion. As tension rose between the two sides in economic negotiations last month, the union said they remained far apart in health and safety talks as well. But in a mad dash Tuesday, the two sides made it to the finish line.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this post contained reported details on what players can opt out of the season and receive full prorated salaries, but this article has been updated to reflect new reported information.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.