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MLB, MLBPA agree on stipulations for return of 2020 season



Major League Baseball owners have approved a plan to address salary and service-time issues amid the indefinite delay to the start of the regular season, according to ESPN and multiple reports.

The owners completed an agreement reached between MLB and the players’ union Thursday night, which came after nearly two weeks of morning-to-night negotiations that involved players, owners, agents, executives, union officials and commissioner’s office staff.

As part of the agreement, obtained by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the players and MLB primarily agreed that the 2020 season will not start until each of the following conditions were met:

  • There are no bans on mass gatherings that would limit the ability to play in front of fans. However, the commissioner could still consider the “use of appropriate substitute neutral sites where economically feasible”;

  • There are no travel restrictions throughout the United States and Canada;

  • Medical experts determine that there would be no health risks for players, staff or fans, with the commissioners and union still able to revisit the idea of playing in empty stadiums.

While there was no formal framework in the agreement, owners and players both want to play as many games as possible. The flexibility of both sides was seen in the willingness to extend the regular season into October, play neutral-site playoff games in November and add doubleheaders to the schedule.

Players pushed to receive a full year of service time, which counts days toward free agency, arbitration and pension, even in the event of a canceled season. When MLB agreed to grant that, the path to a deal coming together was forged, sources said.

The union agreed not to sue the league for full salaries in the event that the 2020 season never takes place, and MLB will advance players $170 million over the next two months, sources said. The MLBPA will divvy up the lump sum among four classes of players, with the majority of it going to those with guaranteed major league contracts. If games are played, the advance will count against final salaries, which will be prorated.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has the discretion to shorten the 2020 draft to as few as five rounds, and it will be moved from June to sometime in July, sources said.

Manfred also can delay the 2020 international signing period, which was supposed to run from July 2, 2020, through June 15, 2021, to at latest Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 15, 2021. MLB also has the right to shorten the 2021 draft to as few as 20 rounds and push back the next international signing period as well — though international free agency might well be gone by then, as the league plans to pursue an international draft at the conclusion of the current collective bargaining agreement, which runs out in December 2021.

Sources said players drafted in 2020 will get only $100,000 of their bonus this year. The remaining amount will be split into payments made in July 2021 and July 2022.

Also, teams will be unable to trade draft picks or international slot money, sources said.

Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman, among others, are guaranteed to be free agents come November regardless of the season’s status. If the year is canceled, Betts might never play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who traded for him this offseason.

A transaction freeze will go into effect when owners make the deal official that bars teams from signing free agents, trading players and making roster moves.

A rejiggered setting for arbitration, the system that awards players with three, four and five years of service time with higher salaries. While arbitration is a numbers- and precedent-based system typically, the sides will change that to acknowledge the shorter schedule.

Any players punished with a drug suspension will serve the penalty in 2020, even if there is no season, sources said.

While both sides believed they made concessions, they settled around an obvious point: No sports league wants to be seen as bickering about billions of dollars amid an international health and financial crisis. In addition to the agreed-upon financial particulars, the parties engaged in significant discussions about the most vital issue now and in the future: how to proceed amid the outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

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Sources — MLB proposal includes pay cuts for highest-paid players



Major League Baseball has proposed cutting the salaries of the highest-paid players in baseball, with the lowest-paid players taking lesser cuts from their full prorated shares, in its first economic proposal to the MLB Players Association, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

The long-awaited plan, which was delivered to the union Tuesday afternoon, proposes that high-salaried players take significant reductions of what they will be paid during a prospective season, according to sources.

While the size of the pay cuts is unclear, sources said the highest-paid players under the proposal would receive perhaps less than 40% of their full-season salaries.

As word of the proposal spread, players bristled at the notion of taking further pay reductions — particularly ones that would affect the highest-paid players — after a March agreement that they believe guarantees them a full prorated share of their salaries. Under that deal, players would receive slightly more than 50% of their agreed-upon salary over an 82-game season.

MLB has disputed that agreement, believing that the language calls for a good-faith negotiation if games start without fans in the stands, which they would in early July with a deal.

Tuesday’s proposal calls for a sliding scale, as USA Today first reported, that would mirror the pay cuts in some organizations, where the highest-paid employees have taken greater pay reductions, according to sources.

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Dodger Stadium now largest coronavirus testing site in California



LOS ANGELES — Dodger Stadium, which has hosted nearly 20 million fans over the last five seasons, opened as a coronavirus testing facility that is considered to be the largest in the state of California.

The drive-through testing site has the capacity to test 6,000 people daily, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday from a lectern. Tests will be conducted from the stadium parking lot, with large video monitors explaining the process in hopes of maximizing efficiency.

Garcetti worked in collaboration with Dodgers president Stan Kasten and will also partner with the L.A. Fire Department and the nonprofit Community Organized Relief Effort to operate the site.

Roughly 60 staff members will be on hand to help, Garcetti said, adding that Los Angeles is now testing an average of 15,000 people a day.

Dodger Stadium is currently also open to injured Dodgers players for treatment, as is the team’s spring training facility in Phoenix.

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Viewers guide – Cubs take on their World Series title drought in epic Game 7



ESPN continues MLB Encore Tuesdays, a series of classic game broadcasts, this week at 7 p.m. ET with Game 7 of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

What you need to know: Given everything at stake, this has to be considered one of the most anticipated World Series games in history. The Cubs, in the World Series for the first time since 1945, had gone 108 years since their most recent title in 1908. The Indians, meanwhile, had most recently won in 1948, a 68-year drought that included the gut-wrenching Game 7 loss in 1997, when they led 2-1 in the ninth inning. That’s 176 total years of misery on the line in one game at Progressive Field. The Cubs were trying to become just the fourth team to win Games 6 and 7 on the road — though the stadium appeared to be half-full of Cubs fans.

The Cubs had rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the series, winning 3-2 in Game 5 behind Jon Lester and 2 ⅔ innings of relief from Aroldis Chapman and 9-3 in a blowout in Game 6. Chapman, however, threw 20 pitches in that game and 62 over Games 5 and 6. Joe Maddon’s strategy, as we later learned, was to use three pitchers in Game 7: starter Kyle Hendricks, Lester on short rest and Chapman. The Indians started ace Corey Kluber, who was 4-1 with a 0.89 ERA in the postseason. He had been nearly untouchable in the playoffs but was starting for the second straight game on three days of rest.

Did you know? Dexter Fowler homered off Kluber to lead off the game, marking the first leadoff home run in a winner-take-all World Series game.



Photos chronicle Chicago’s comeback from a 3-1 deficit to win its first World Series in 108 years.

The view from the press box: Reporting from Cleveland for ESPN, Jayson Stark observed, “Madness. Mayhem. Ecstasy. Heaven. Pick whatever description works. The Chicago Cubs had won the World Series, and won it the only way they could.

“The hard way.”

Listen: Cubs’ Maddon on Game 7 | Indians exec Antonetti weighs in

You probably forgot he was in this game: I guess everyone remembers that David Ross played in the game — it was the final one of his career — and hit a huge home run off Andrew Miller in the sixth inning that gave the Cubs a 6-3 lead. What you might have forgotten is that the Cubs used three catchers in the game, and all three drove in a run. Willson Contreras started and hit a two-out RBI double in the fourth inning to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead. When Lester replaced Hendricks in the bottom of the fifth, Ross subbed in for Contreras, as Ross was Lester’s personal catcher throughout the season. In the top of the ninth, Ross led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Chris Coghlan. Miguel Montero then replaced Ross behind the plate and hit an RBI single in the 10th that gave the Cubs an 8-6 lead.

One thing you might miss: You know the final out: a little dribbler to third base that Kris Bryant fielded with a big smile. You might remember that Michael Martinez, an obscure bench player, was the batter for Cleveland. What you might have missed is why Martinez was in the game. Martinez was on the postseason roster mainly for his ability to play both the infield and the outfield, and he had batted just three times all postseason (and struck out all three times). When Jason Heyward stole second base and went to third on an error on a 3-1 count to Javier Baez with one out in the top of the ninth, Terry Francona brought in Martinez to replace the weak-armed Coco Crisp in left field (Brandon Guyer actually moved to left field, and Martinez took over in right).

The Cubs failed to score (Baez struck out trying to bunt), and the game went to extra innings. When Martinez came up in the bottom of the 10th with a runner on first base and those 176 years hanging in the balance, Francona was out of position players — Martinez had to bat. As Sam Miller just wrote in his excellent piece on unsung World Series heroes, “The potential winning run came to the plate, and that hitter was Michael Martinez, the owner of a career .197/.241/.266 slash line, the worst hitter on either club and one of the worst hitters ever to bat in a World Series moment that mattered.”

Was Francona’s defensive move worth it? With the potential go-ahead run at third base, he wanted to bring in the better outfield arm, and I gave him credit for thinking of that in the moment, but really, what were the odds that Baez would hit a fly ball to left field (if Crisp were in the game) that would be at the exact right distance — not too deep, not too shallow — where a stronger arm would come into play? Were those odds worth the big drop in offense from Crisp to Martinez?



The Chicago Cubs found the perfect leader in the unique and zany Joe Maddon.

Aftermath: The Cubs became the first team since the 1985 Royals to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series. Ross called the home run off Miller the most shocking of his 15-year career. “I don’t know how I hit that ball,” he said.

Officials estimated that 5 million people showed up at the Cubs’ World Series parade and rally, making it the seventh-largest gathering in human history and the largest in U.S. history. Both clubs returned to the postseason in 2017, with the Cubs losing in the NLCS and the Indians, after a historic 22-game winning streak, losing in the ALDS. Cleveland’s title drought is now at 71 years, the longest in MLB.

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