Neither will be easy.
Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti did his best to temper rumors and speculation that the team is preparing for a potential fire sale.
“Our financial losses will be extraordinary this year,” Antonetti said Friday afternoon on a Zoom video conference call with reporters. “But I don’t expect that we will have any short-term decisions that will be impacted by finances.”
As COVID-19 positive tests spike throughout the country, questions remain if baseball – or any sport – can safely play.
It’s an obstacle everyone in the game – not just Antonetti and the Indians – face.
“We understand there may come a point and time where circumstances dictate that we may not be able to play,” Antonetti said. “Obviously, our hope is that the protocols we have in place will be sufficient enough to at least keep our players and staff healthy.”
The franchise has already made difficult internal decisions by laying off their part-time staff and cutting pay for regular full-time staff. Now as they prepare to welcome the roster to town July 1 to begin preparing, the reality of staying financially afloat is one they have to deal with.
Complicating the financial outlook for the team is whether fans – in any amount – will be permitted at Progressive Field this season.
“I think that’s going to be up to the state of Ohio,” Antonetti said. “They have to give us some guidance on what they might be comfortable with and then it would be up to us to adapt a plan that we can do that in a safe way.
“Given all of the unknowns that we have and all of the variables, I think our priority right no is making sure that we can get all of our staff and players into Cleveland, get them on their way to preparing and starting games and then reassess and see what the opportunities may be to play in front of fans.”
Baseball did itself no favors with nearly three months of acrimonious and very public negotiations between the players’ associations and owners t lay out the parameters of a shortened season on the field, financially and from a health and safety standpoint.
“I think we would’ve all preferred to get to this point of starting baseball on a slightly different path, but that’s not the reality,” Antonetti said. “I could understand any fan’s frustrations they may have but hopefully everyone could look forward and turn the page and think about getting back on to the field and the baseball that we have in front of us.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred, under the authority granted him in a March agreement, is instituting a 60-game season that will see the Indians play 40 games against their AL Central rivals and 20 games against NL Central teams.
Antonetti has seen a draft of the 2020 schedule but declined to elaborate on it with potential changes that could still be made to it.
The 2020 season is expected to begin July 23 or 24.