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Union, MLB reach an agreement on health and safety protocols for 2021

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7-inning doubleheaders and runners on second in extra innings remain, but the universal DH was not included

MLB: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum-Press Conference Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

MLB and the MLBPA did come to an agreement on the health and safety protocols for Spring Training and the regular season. The components for the regular season include keeping seven inning doubleheaders and starting extra innings with a runner on second base.

At this point, there is nothing agreed to regarding the universal DH.

MLB has tried to attach the universal DH to expanding the number of teams in the postseason from 10-14. MLBPA does want the universal DH, but does not want is as an attachment to expanding the number of teams in postseason.

The MLBPA is operating under the assumption that teams will not invest in player talent because of the lowered bar to get into the playoffs. Plus players were not granted a percentage of the additional television revenues that came with the added number of playoff games in 2020. They probably want to see that change before agreeing to expanded playoffs in 2021 or ever.

As a result it looks as if 2021 will operate with a 10-team postseason. There is also thought that teams will have expanded rosters for September, but the 26-man roster will increase to a 28-roster instead of the 300-man roster that seemingly took place every September in years past.

As for the safety components of the health and safety protocols agreed to by MLB and MLBPA, they are numerous. For a more detailed outline of health and safety protocols, check out this The Athletic article by Ken Rosenthal linked here. Subscription required.

Some of the protocols are as follows:

  • Players will wear sensors, allowing teams to monitor social distancing and do contact tracing if there is a positive test.
  • Disciplinary action can be taken against players who violate the protocols, including suspensions or forfeiture of salary if they miss time.
  • Players, coaches, team personnel must undergo an intake screening consisting of at least a temperature check, PCR test and rapid antibody test.
  • Players, coaches, and team personnel cannot attend indoor gathers of more than ten people, which includes going to restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and the like.
  • When on the road, they cannot leave their hotel except for team activities, outdoor exercise, other low-risk outdoor activities, and medical reasons or extraordinary circumstances.

With this agreement, things begin to become more apparent. As long as there are not COVID-related changes, Spring Training will start on February 17 and the regular season, which will be 162 games, will start on April 1. The potential of a players’ strike still looms over the league as a collision course between MLB and MLBPA closes in by the end of the 2021 season. As most of you know, the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the league ends in December.