Report: MLB Discussing 2-Team ‘Emergency Pool’ of Unsigned Players Amid Pandemic

VARIOUS CITIES,  - MARCH 12:  A detail of baseballs during a Grapefruit League spring training game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 12, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Many professional and college sports, including the MLB, are canceling or postponing their games due to the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Major League Baseball is reportedly discussing having two teams of unsigned players located in Nashville, Tennessee, to serve as an “emergency pool” of free agents as part of the plan to start the season, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic.

Per that report, those players would be paid $400 per week, and teams signing any of the players would be required to pay a fee.

On Tuesday, the MLB Players Association agreed to a 60-game season with training camps to open July 1, per Jeff Passan of ESPN, though some aspects of the deal have yet to be resolved.

Jim Bowden of CBS Sports reported the season will begin July 24 and last 66 days.

Stark and Passan outlined some of the altered rules that will be in place for the shortened season:

Jayson Stark @jaysonst

More adjusted rules:
*To be eligible for postseason, players must be added to big-league roster by 9/15
*Season will start with 30-man rosters. Down to 28 after 2 weeks, 26 after 4 weeks.
*Pitchers/catchers report to camp first, then position players. https://t.co/Og6Ix7TBeE

Jayson Stark @jaysonst

More adjusted rules for 2020:
*Teams can invite all 60 players to big-league spring training or can send up to 20 players (not on 40-man roster) to alternate site.
*Not all players on 40-man roster must be invited to big-league spring training (but if not must still be paid). https://t.co/Og6Ix7TBeE

Jayson Stark @jaysonst

Here come more adjusted rules for 2020:
*Transactions freeze ends this Friday at noon ET
*Teams must submit 60-man player pool names by Sunday at 3 ET
*In-person scouting will be allowed.
*Teams can take up to 3 taxi squad players on road (but if 3, one must be a catcher) https://t.co/Og6Ix7TBeE

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

While the regular injured list will be for 10 days in 2020, MLB is expected to institute a special COVID-19-related injured list for players who test positive, have confirmed exposure or are exhibiting symptoms. Players would not have a specific number of days to spend on it.

This follows nearly six weeks of contentious and fruitless negotiations between the league’s owners and its players. The owners wanted the players to take a major pay cut; the players argued they had already agreed to one in March when they signed on for prorated pay and weren’t interested in taking a second.

The owners then voted Monday for Commissioner Rob Manfred to mandate a season. He was allowed to do so as part of the original agreement in March.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be more wrinkles to be ironed out before baseball returns. And the gulf between the owners and players feels as wide as it has been since the 1994-95 strike. That will continue as a major storyline going forward, especially come free agency and the offseason.

But for now, baseball is coming back in what will be a unique season that will include such unprecedented rules as teams’ being able to sign standby players out of Nashville.