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MLB and the Players Association have been negotiating a number of facets of the game to figure out how to proceed once baseball returns. A couple of the things that they’ve negotiated have impact on the Blue Jays players who were just optioned to the minor leagues as the Blue Jays sent Santiago Espinal, Thomas Pannone and Jacob Waguespack to the minors.
According to Bob Nightengale, MLB is expecting that teams will be able to carry 29 players for the first month once they begin playing games again, up from the 26 that is regularly allowed. Combining this with a roster freeze that takes effect when the agreement between the league and the PA is signed, and the Blue Jays have now maneuvered their roster to have 29 players, keeping seven outfielders (including Anthony Alford, Jonathan Davis, Billy McKinney and Derek Fisher), seven infielders (including Joe Panik, who was added to the 40-man and Rowdy Tellez), two catchers, and 13 pitchers.
With the Jays’ current roster configuration after sending Pannone down to the minors, the only lefty in the Jays pen could be Ryan Borucki who gets some extra time to rehab the sore arm he had that shut him down during spring training.
Other interesting details that Ken Rosenthal reports in The Athletic (need subscription) include the fact that MLB holds the right to shorten the draft to as little as five rounds with signing bonuses deferred with up to $100,000 up front and the rest in equal amounts in 2021 and 2022. The draft will be moved to no later than July and slot values will be frozen at 2019 levels for the next two years. Additionally, minor league free agents can receive no more than $20,000 in their bonus for 2020.
The big issue for the players, however, was service time. Under the agreement reached, the player will receive the percentage of service time proportional to the percentage of the shortened season he spends on the roster. For example, a normal season is 186 days long with a player getting a full season of service time if he spends 172 days on the active roster (or IL). If the 2020 season is 100 days long and the player is on the roster for 50 days, he’ll get 86 days of service time (one half of a normal season). If the season isn’t played, the player will get the number of days he got in 2019.
Additionally, the players agreed to getting a $170-million lump-sum advance on their salaries, spread over two months. Players on major league, guaranteed contracts will get $150,000 and “players with different types of split contracts between the majors and minors will receive $60,000, $30,000 and $15,000,” according to Rosenthal. If the season is cancelled, the players keep that money but if the season is shortened, then they get prorated amounts of their normal salaries. For example, if Hyun-Jin Ryu is making $20 million for 2020 and the team plays 81 games, he’ll make $10 million. This allows the players to get something and the owners to know that the players won’t sue them for the full amounts if the season is canceled.
There will also may be an expanded playoff format in 2020, with some playoff games in neutral sites, and the players will also have to approve scheduling before the league goes ahead and begins the season. This protects the players from having to play more games than they deem feasible or healthy in a shortened period of time.
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