MLB, MLBPA reach agreement on draft, service time, salary advances amid COVID-19 pandemic

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have reached an agreement on a number of fronts for the shortened 2020 season, per multiple reports (ESPN, Associated Press, The Athletic). 

There are three main areas the two sides agreed upon, in cobbling together the reports. 

Adding amateur talent

The two sides have reportedly agreed that the MLB can shorten the draft all the way down to five rounds, should it so choose. The league could increase the total, too. The draft will be pushed back, and held no earlier than August, per reports.. 

Also, the international signing period could be delayed until all the way back to January of 2021. 

The players agreeing to this makes sense because not only does it not affect them in a negative way, if anything, it prevents more of an influx of new talent into the minors. Amateur baseball players get a raw deal here. We’ll see more players going to college and staying in school for their senior year, so I guess a good result here is college baseball’s product gets better, at least temporarily. 

Service time

The two sides have agreed that if there is no 2020 season, the players will get the same service time for 2020 they had in 2019, which means players set to hit free agency after this season still will. It’s a big win for the players and a big loss for the owners, which leads me to believe the owners are very confident the season is going to happen. For example, why would the Dodgers agree to possibly losing Mookie Betts without having ever had him play a meaningful game unless they knew that wasn’t going to happen. 

Service time in a shortened season will be prorated. 

Salary advance

Per the reports, the players will collectively get a $170 million advance spread over two months and then their salaries will be prorated for the season, depending upon how long it lasts. 

There are still more things to work out before the season starts, but for now, the two sides are likely in a holding pattern until we get more clarity as to when teams will start reporting back to spring training for what we all expect will be four weeks before the regular season returns.