The MLB is evaluating every possible opportunity they have at their disposal to make a 2020 season happen. However, with the Coronavirus pandemic continuing throughout the United States and the world, there is no guarantee it will be possible. Many players will be just fine taking off a year of their careers for the better wellbeing of the entire population, but several guys need this season to take place.
Marcell Ozuna, Cole Hamels
This one is fairly straightforward — two pending free agents that just signed lucrative one-year deals with the Braves. If there’s no season, they will lose out on about $17 million each. For Ozuna, he will be wasting a year of his prime and likely have to settle for another one-year pact if he wants to land the enormous multi-year contract he desires. However, that will be even more difficult to earn now that he is a year older. For Hamels, it means losing one of the last potentially good years he has left. He’s already experienced an arm injury while with Atlanta, and going on 37; he may not even be able to land a similar contract in free agency.
Nobody would have been shocked at all had Hernandez decided to hang it up after last season. However, he wanted to prove he still had some stuff left in the tank and signed a one-year deal with the Braves. I was hesitant to believe he would have ever made the roster at first, but The King looked fantastic in Spring Training and was on his way to earning a spot on the 26-man. If there’s no season, Hernandez will have to prove himself again, which may not be possible.
Another pending free agent, Nick Markakis, needs this season for a lot of the same reasons Cole Hamels wants it to happen. At 36, he doesn’t have a lot of good years left and probably isn’t in the Braves’ future plans. On top of that, Markakis has an outside chance of reaching 3,000 hits if he plays a few more seasons. If there are no games this year, that milestone becomes nearly impossible.
Mark Melancon, Darren O’Day
Much like Hamels, Melancon will be a free agent this year, is on the last year of a lucrative contract, and is well out of his prime. He will be 36 next year, and there is no way he fetches the $14 million he is scheduled to make in 2020.
O’Day is only making a fraction of Melancon’s 2020 salary, but at 37 years old, missing out on an opportunity to play for a competitive team for the first time in a while has to be a bummer (Yes, I realize he pitched sparingly at the end of last year).
Foltynewicz has the type of raw stuff that could land him a massive, multi-year contract following his final year in arbitration (2021). The problem is, there is not a smart team out there that would give him the deal he is looking for if he can’t show some signs of consistency. Putting together back-to-back quality campaigns in 2020 and 2021 after the way he finished 2019 might have been enough to land him a contract worth well over $100 million in total. That’s going to be much tougher to find if there is no season in 2020, and it also leaves him with much less room for error.
Minter will not start the year in the majors, and it should (rightfully) take him quite a bit of success to earn another shot in the bullpen, but he has all the stuff in the world to make it at the highest level, and he’s proven it before over an entire season. After an egregious 2019, I’m sure nobody was more anxious to show they could still be a valuable commodity than Minter, but he’ll have to wait even longer if there’s no season.
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