John McCoy/Getty Images
While Major League Baseball players and owners continue to seek an agreement to start the 2020 season, 40 players and staff members reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 amid the pandemic.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the news, noting the positive numbers are “creating a sense of urgency in labor negotiations.”
As of now, the players have postponed voting on the owners’ latest proposal, which calls for 60 games with fully prorated salaries. While the two sides agreed the season should start on July 19, the positive tests could delay it to July 26.
This comes after ESPN reported the league is closing all training camps, with the Arizona and Florida ones set to undergo a deep cleaning. The Philadelphia Phillies had closed their spring training facility after five players and three members of their staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Nightengale reported every team in the league except the Toronto Blue Jays will probably hold their spring training camps in their home cities instead of the typical Arizona and Florida locations due to spikes in the COVID-19 numbers in the two states.
The Blue Jays may have to deal with international travel restrictions.
“I really believe we are fighting over an impossibility on games,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said to MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark in an email, per Nightengale. “The earliest we will be ready for players to report is a week from Monday [June 29] given the need to relocate teams from Florida. That leaves 66 days to play 60 games. Realistically, that is the outside of the envelope now.”
Nightengale’s report explained players are worried that spiking COVID-19 numbers will mean there will be even fewer games than the 60 in the owners’ latest proposal.
Manfred, who could still unilaterally put a season of 54-60 games into place, conceded to Clark that the league will not expand the postseason in 2021 if the COVID-19 pandemic forces a shorter season.