With so much coronavirus-induced uncertainty hovering around Major League Baseball, MLB and it's players' association struck a deal Thursday night that will help offer some direction going forward. ESPN.com was first to report the arrangement.
Of particular note, MLB is granting its players a year's worth of service time even if there are no games played in 2020. What that means is that players who are eligible to become free agents after the upcoming season - such as Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto and, from the Red Sox side of things, Jackie Bradley Jr. - will still be able to hit the open market.
The possibility of that taking place immediately puts the Red Sox' trade of Betts in the microscope considering the Dodgers might end up with nothing from the outfielder despite giving up Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong and Jeter Downs. Los Angeles retains the rights to offer Betts a qualifying offer before he hits free agency.
David Price, who also went to LA in the deal, will still have two more years left on his current deal.
Some other parts of the agreement include:
- The amateur draft may be shifted to as few as just five rounds, with MLB having the ability to increase that number of rounds. It won't occur any later than July. Signing bonuses will also be deferred.
- Once the deal is ratified (expected Friday) there will be a freeze on all transactions until both sides agree to end the moratorium.
- The international signing period -- which was scheduled to run from July 2-15 -- will be pushed back to as late as January.