SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Major League Baseball is normally in the thick of its season by the end of May, but the COVID-19 pandemic has had other ideas.
The Minnesota Twins were supposed to play Friday night in Chicago against the White Sox. It would’ve been the Twins’ 58th game of the season.
The MLB is currently working on a return plan, if all sides can agree on how they could safely play games.
Kramer Sneed is a former minor league pitcher and current pitching coach at Dakota State University.
Sneed pitched for both the Yankees and Angels minor league affiliates. After talking to a friend that has been in and out of the majors, Sneed believes the league is heading towards a return.
“My friend says it sounds like the big league is making progress for a return,” Sneed said. “The monetary side is the problem. Owners seem to want to save money, but the players still want to be paid as they are still risking injury or even a career-ending injury in a shortened season.”
While the discussions are ongoing between the MLB owners and the MLBPA (MLB player’s association), it is clear there will need to be some compromise between the two groups.
According to ESPN MLB analyst Jeff Passan, the MLBPA thought they had reached an agreement with the owners in March, but it didn’t hold up.
The two groups had supposedly agreed on a prorated financial deal, based on the number of games played.
The owners acknowledged that they had reached an agreement, but they say the agreement doesn’t apply now since there won’t be fans in the stands.
Below is Passan’s attempt to show what the owners would pay via Tuesday’s proposal.
As they prepare to get back to baseball, many people are wondering what it will look like.
“From what I’ve heard, the games will be played in the spring training stadiums with no fans and essential workers only,” Sneed said. “My buddy says there has been some talk of July 1, and that would be perfect cause it would give these guys some time.”
Players are going to keep their bodies in shape during quarantine, but just because you’re in shape doesn’t mean you’re ready to play baseball.
Most players say that when they get back to baseball, they will need a period of time to get ready to play again.
“Most guys will need 3-4 weeks to get ready to play a regular season MLB game,” Sneed said. “I think a two-week spring training would be very beneficial to the players.”
A short spring training would allow players to see pitches and face live game situations before a regular season. It would also improve the game once the season would begin.
“Quality of play could be down for a while, if there is no spring training to get the guys going,” Sneed said. “You can practice all you want, but there is no substitute for playing a live game.”
The MLB is working toward a probable 2020 season; however the minor league season looks a lot less promising.
Sneed spent his entire MLB career in the minor leagues, which makes what is currently happening even harder to see.
“Minor league players don’t get that much money to begin with and with the potential for no season, they could end up with little to no money,” Sneed said. “As a guy who was in that spot, my heart really feels for those players.”
There has been talk of possibly cutting 25% of players and teams in the minor leagues.
According to Sneed, there are rookie leagues, plus the two levels of class ‘A’ ball (low ‘A’ and high ‘A’).
“An example is the Yankees organization. They have four rookie league teams and then two teams in class ‘A’ ball,” Sneed said. “That’s where I started as I was a Staten Island Yankee (low ‘A’).”
The Yankees still have four rookie league teams, but only three of them are in the GCL (Gulf Coast League). They also have the DSL Yankees who play in the Dominican Summer League.
The biggest question is whether to pay minor leaguers or not, if there is no season.
The Minnesota Twins will pay minor league players until August 31 and if there is no season, there won’t be any players released.
The decision of a minor league season will impact MLB obviously as the league won’t be able to just call up or send down players.
“I’ve heard of some talks of having a 40-man roster for the MLB teams,” Sneed said. “That would help, but injuries are still going to happen, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they allowed 50-man rosters.”
For now, there is no decision from the MLB as the owners and the players attempt to reach an agreement.
The league has been hopeful for baseball by July, which means a decision would need to be reached soon.