MLB sent a proposal to the MLBPA Saturday outlining the league’s health and safety protocols for COVID-19 testing, facility guidelines and on-field operations, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich.
The Athletic obtained a copy of the 67-page document, where the proposals involved would be enacted if the union agrees to them.
The proposal says all players, managers, coaches, umpires and some support staff members would be tested regularly, as Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci reported earlier this week. All players will undergo an “intake screening” when they arrive at camp. The Athletic reports the screening will include a temperature check with a contactless thermometer and body fluid and blood samples.
Players will reportedly have their temperatures checked and be asked about any possible symptoms daily before they enter club facilities.
The proposal also includes numerous protocols to keep players safe during games. New balls will be used each time one is put in play and touched by multiple players. Players will not be allowed to spit or use smokeless tobacco and sunflower seeds. Lineup cards will not be distributed in-person and non-playing personnel must wear masks in the dugout at all times.
Assuming baseball is played this season, players will likely return to camp in June and their reporting days will be staggered. Teams will be limited to 50 players at camp, according to the proposal.
Camps will be divided into three phases with individual and small group workouts for pitchers and catchers, which will be limited to five players or fewer and must be spread out across the complex. Larger groups for position player workouts and intra-squad games will be permitted and staggered throughout the day. A limited number of games will be held at camp, per The Athletic.
All team or group activities will be held outside as much as possible, including team meetings, batting practice and other pre-game training, according to The Athletic. Only limited essential personnel will be allowed in team facilities—this includes on-field personnel such as players, umpires and coaches. Clubhouse staff, front office officials, groundskeeper, broadcasters, first responders and up to 150 essential event workers who can physically distance during games will also receive facility access.
The Athletic reports the protocols include additional restrictions for traveling and road-game procedures to help teams control their environments as much as possible.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that he remains “hopeful” that there would be an MLB season at some point in 2020.
“I think it’s hopeful that we will have some Major League Baseball this summer,” Manfred said. “We are making plans about playing in empty stadiums, but as I’ve said before, all of those plans are dependent on what the public health situation is, and us reaching the conclusion that it’ll be safe for our players and other employees to come back to work.”
Aside from ensuring safe working conditions for players and other team and league employees, a primary issue that must be resolved is how players will be compensated. The league has proposed a 50/50 revenue split, an idea that players allege greatly favors the owners. Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell has already expressed his displeasure with the proposal, saying he won’t play under such a financial structure. Stars Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado quickly came to his defense to support his stance on resuming play.