gabp
by Matt Wilkes

Baseball is back: Here’s everything we know so far

At long last, it seems baseball is back.

The players union and owners agreed to health and safety protocols on Tuesday evening, and players will officially report to training camp on July 1. There are, understandably, a lot of moving parts — rule changes, safety precautions, and other changes worth noting. We’ll list them here.

Schedule

  • Players will report by July 1 and undergo COVID testing. Spring training 2.0 will begin July 3. (Bob Nightengale)
  • Teams will conduct training camp at their home parks. (MLB statement)
  • Players, coaches, and team personnel will report in staggered fashion to prevent everyone from arriving at once. Clubhouse personnel and support staff will arrive first to prepare for players and coaches. Coaches will arrive next, followed by pitchers and catchers and finally position players. (Cotillo)
  • Teams will start camp with small group workouts, then progress to larger group workouts and a limited number of exhibition games. (Cotillo)
  • The 60-game season will begin on either July 23 or July 24. (Mark Feinsand)
  • The season will end on September 27. (Nightengale)
  • The schedule is expected to be released within the next 72 hours. (Nightengale)
  • Teams will only play division rivals and the team from the corresponding division in the opposite league. (Marc Topkin)
  • Teams will play 40 games in division and 20 interleague games. (Jon Heyman)
  • There is no expanded postseason. The usual 10 teams will qualify. (Jeff Passan)
  • There will be no doubleheaders scheduled, but they may still be played to make up postponed games. (Jayson Stark)
  • Games suspended by weather before they’re official (i.e., before 5 innings) will be considered “suspended” and resume where they left off — no more starting the game over in these situations. (Stark)

In-game rule changes

  • A universal DH will be implemented in 2020 only. (Heyman)
  • In extra innings, a runner will start on second base in each half-inning. The runner will be the player who made the last out in the previous inning; if that player is the pitcher, the manager can choose to use the player who batted before the pitcher. The rule only applies in the regular season. Normal extra innings rules will return in the postseason. (Cotillo, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich)
  • Pitchers will not be charged with an earned run if the runner on second scores in extra innings; they will, however, be charged with the loss. (Nightengale)
  • Pitchers are still required to face a minimum of three batters or pitch until the end of an inning. (Cotill0)
  • There are no limits on position players pitching. (Cotillo)
  • In spring training, managers can end an inning before three outs are recorded if their pitcher has thrown at least 25 pitches. (Rosenthal and Drellich)

Rosters

  • Teams will have a 60-player pool to choose from this season. Teams must submit the player pool by this Sunday at 3 p.m. EST. (Jayson Stark)
  • Teams can invite all 60 players to training camp. Players on the 40-man roster do not have to be invited, but they do have to be paid. (Stark)
  • Active rosters will start at 30 players and gradually be reduced to 26. After 15 days, they’ll reduce to 28. After 29 days, they’ll reduce to 26. (Chris Cotillo)
  • The “taxi-squad” will compose of the players in the group of 60 who aren’t on the active roster. (Stark)
  • There will be no expanded rosters in September. (Nightengale)
  • Teams can take 3 taxi squad players on the road, and one must be a catcher. (Stark)
  • The 10-day injured list will be used, and the 60-day IL will be reduced to 45 days. (Cotillo)
  • A special injured list will be created for players who test positive for COVID-19, have symptoms, or have been exposed to the virus. Players would not have to spend a specific amount of time on it. (Passan)
  • Players must be added to the active roster by September 15 to be eligible for the postseason. (Stark)
  • Although the minor league season isn’t likely to happen, MLB is still debating whether teams can sign players to minor-league deals. They would count as part of the 60-player pool in training camp. (Stark)
  • Players who are optioned or outrighted must be off the active roster for a minimum of 10 days before being recalled. (Cotillo)

Transactions

  • The freeze on transactions ends this Friday at noon EST. (Stark)
  • The trade deadline will take place on August 31 rather than July 31. (Cotillo)
  • Some minor league teams may operate essentially as those in independent leagues do, rostering players — many of whom are current big-league free agents — that MLB teams can then sign away for a fee if they need to make additions to the 60-man player pool due to injuries or illness. (Rosenthal and Drellich)

Health and safety regulations

  • Players can opt out of the season whether they are at high risk for COVID-19 or not. Players who live with a person at high risk for COVID-19 will also be allowed to opt out of the season. Players who are high risk or who live with someone high risk will still be paid and accrue service time. Those who are not high risk will not be paid. (Nightengale)
    • It’s now being reported that only players who are high risk will be paid and accrue service time. (Nightengale)
  • Those with pregnant spouses can go on 3-day paid maternity leave or 7-day family emergency leave. If the player needs more time, it is up to the team to decide whether the player gets paid. (Nightengale)
  • MLB can relocate any team to another city due to health and safety issues. (Nightengale)
  • Before training camp begins, players will complete a COVID symptom and exposure questionnaire, temperature check, COVID test, and antibody test. They’ll then quarantine for 24 to 48 hours until their test results come back. (Cotillo)
  • Any player who tests positive must self-isolate and cannot travel with the team. They can return if they test negative twice at least 24 hours apart, have no fever for at least 72 hours, exhibit no symptoms, take an antibody test, pass a cardiac exam, and get final clearance from team doctors. (Rosenthal and Drellich)
  • Pitchers can have a wet rag in their pocket to use instead of licking their fingers. (Cotillo)
  • Temperature and symptom checks will be mandatory twice per day. (Cotillo)
  • COVID tests will be performed every other day. Antibody testing will be performed around once a month. (Cotillo)
  • Managers will not exchange lineup cards before games. (Cotillo)
  • Pitchers will bring their own rosin bags to the mound. (Cotillo)
  • Anyone not playing must wear a mask in the dugout and bullpen. Spitting and fights are prohibited. Chewing gum is allowed. (Cotillo)
  • Smokeless tobacco, sunflower seeds, high-fives, hugs, and fist bumps are also prohibited. Showering after games is discouraged but not prohibited. (Rosenthal and Drellich)
  • Players aren’t allowed to socialize or come within 6 feet of each other before games. (Nightengale)
  • Players can’t arrive more than 5 hours before games and must leave within 90 minutes after. (Nightengale)
  • Interviews with reporters will be done over Zoom. Parks will be limited to 35 reporters and photographers per game. (Cotillo)
  • TV broadcasters will not attend away games. They’ll do broadcasts remotely through a feed provided by the home team. (Cotill0)
  • Players will have to bring their own donuts and pine tar rags to the on-deck circle. They’ll also have to get their own hats and gloves from the dugout if they’re on base when an inning ends. (Stark)

Miscellaneous

  • In-person scouting will be allowed. (Stark)
  • Clubs can allow radio announcers to travel to away games. (Cotillo)
  • Players will make roughly 37% of their salaries if the regular season is completed. They will not be paid for postseason play. (Passan)
  • A player or coach who comes within 6 feet of an umpire to argue a call may be suspended. (Pete Abraham)
  • Players or coaches who come within 6 feet of each other or umpires to fight or argue calls will be immediately ejected. (Joel Sherman)
  • Teams can allow umpires to attend workouts to get reps with pitch tracking. (Cotillo)
  • MLB is working with the government to expedite visas and ensure players from other countries can return to the U.S. safely. (Rosenthal and Drellich)

Reds news

  • The Reds will play the AL Central (Indians, White Sox, Royals, Twins, Tigers).
  • The Ohio Cup looks to be intact. The Reds and Indians will play each other six times. (Zack Meisel)
  • The Reds are negotiating to use Prasco Park in Mason as the site for the taxi squad. (C. Trent Rosecrans)
  • No player has indicated they’re opting out. (Rosecrans)
  • The season will start without fans in attendance, but the team is open to the possibility of playing with fans later in the season. (Rosecrans)
  • So far, no Reds players or staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. (Rosecrans)
  • Dick Williams believes the team will open the season at Great American Ball Park, but that isn’t official yet. (John Fay)
  • Currently, nobody has any injury limitations. Eugenio Suarez and Nick Senzel have progressed from their shoulder injuries. (Fay)
  • The Reds’ 60-player pool is close to being set. The taxi squad will include prospects whose development the team doesn’t want to slow down. (Bobby Nightengale)

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

[Photo Credit: redlegsfan21]

Matt Wilkes got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.

12 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Brandon
Brandon
4 months ago

Thanks for the detailed summary of the rules and nuances of the season to come. It’s going to be a memorable one for sure, no matter how the reds fare

kmartin
kmartin
4 months ago

Great reporting Matt. I am sure it took considerable time and effort to put this summary together. It is very convenient for a fan to be able to come to RC+ and get so much information. Because of you, Steve, Mike and other writers RC+ is going to be my go to resource for the Reds this summer.

Big Ed
Big Ed
4 months ago

What is the point of playing the Indians 6 times, which would mean only 2 games against another AL Central team? It isn’t like they will sell more tickets.

kmartin
kmartin
4 months ago
Reply to  Big Ed

I think I read somewhere that one goal of the schedule was to minimize travel distance. If so this makes sense since Cleveland is the closest AL Central team.

Steve Mancuso
Admin
4 months ago
Reply to  Big Ed

In addition to minimizing travel distance, MLB wants six Yankees-Mets, six White Sox-Cubs, six A’s-Giants games, etc. You’re right that the awesome Ohio Cup is probably not the reason behind it, if that’s how it ends up. I’ve seen it reported a couple ways, though. What Matt has here is what I’ve seen the most and think is likely.

DB
DB
4 months ago

Thank you for this concise, easy to read, and detailed list of information.

I do still have 2 questions:

1. If a player does choose to opt out, does that count as a year on their contract? Lets use Bauer for example, if he chooses to opt out, with one year remaining on his current contract, will he still be a Free Agent next off-season, or will he start next season with 1 year remaining.

2. I don’t fully understand what is happening with the minor league system as a whole, so what exactly happens with the players that are on the taxi squad, or the 60-man roster, who aren’t with the big league club? Do they just continue to work out and train? Does calling a player up and sending them down use an ‘option’ for them this season?

Thanks in advance.

Armo21
Armo21
4 months ago

Great recap….thank you!

R Smith
R Smith
4 months ago

In a season that needs sprinters not marathoners, I like the Reds with Castillo entering his prime and Gray and Bauer in their prime. I also like Lorenzen. Garrett and even Lucas Sims as young fireballers entering their prime. Throw in the outfield core with moose and Suarez … It should be an entertaning 65 days. I also like the competitive makeup of the roster.

Brian Van Hook
4 months ago

Thanks for that compilation, and hope you keep it handy !!!

Has there been any more info about how many exhibition games the Reds might play? Frankly, I was surprised to hear that there might be any, given the need for travel that would be required. I was expecting any of those games to be intrasquad.