Proposal would let Betts, Bauer go free in fall

Tanya Simon
March 29, 2020

Major League Baseball and the Players Association just agreed to a deal that has basically put the Los Angeles Dodgers in a precarious situation after what was suppose to be an incredible off-season.

That would mean the 2018 AL MVP would become a free agent without appearing in a game for the Dodgers, who traded outfielder Alex Verdugo, infield prospect Jeter Downs and catcher Connor Wong to the Boston Red Sox just before spring training began last month for Betts, former Cy Young award victor David Price and cash. So players like Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman are still guaranteed their free agency come November no matter what happens with the season.

Service time affects the player's status for free agency, salary arbitration, and the pension plan. So the agreement between the parties provides for a payment of $ 170 million from the Major League Baseball to players of 40 players covering the first two months and nothing more if not the games are played. In a pair of deals at last July's trade deadline contemplating they would get a top pitcher for 1 1/3 seasons, Cincinnati obtained Bauer from Cleveland and the Mets received Stroman from Toronto.

Both sides also agreed to potentially increase the amount of double-headers and conduct games without fans once the season is cleared to begin, as well as the possibility of playing postseason games at neutral sites in November to reduce weather concerns.

"A World Series week would allow for a great trial to open up an avenue of sponsorship", said agent Scott Boras, a longtime proponent of a neutral-site World Series.

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That is of concern, particularly in Sydney and to a lesser extent in Melbourne and South East Queensland. The two-person rule would also apply to shopping centres.

If less than a full regular season takes place, a player would receive only a proportional share of his salary.

Also as part of this agreement, management has the right to cut the 2020 amateur draft from 40 rounds to five and the 2021 draft to 20.

Major League Baseball has not yet announced a date for Opening Day, but reportedly is looking to start the season in June. A full-service year is generally 172 days, and the season was set at 186 days. The agreement says that regular season games will not continue until the ban on mass gatherings and restrictions on travel has ceased, and that it is no longer considered a health risk for players and fans to gather.

More playoff inventory could be a way to recover some of the money lost, as the networks favor the playoffs and, most importantly, the games to make or die during the regular season. Management has already made proposals to change the postseason format in 2022, including a plan that would expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 14.

"It's probably an opportunity to get creative or to try some things that people think might hold up a little bit or be kind of a segue to something different in the future", said Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

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