It was announced early last week by Trevor Plouffe that Major League Baseball could begin a second Spring Training as soon as June 10th with the season scheduled to start on July 1st. Though there was initially a ton of controversy, Ken Rosenthal and several others confirmed Plouffe’s report, saying the league will announce an official plan to return shortly. That news came over the weekend, as Rosenthal released the latest details on how Major League Baseball will get back on the field.
In a piece on The Athletic, Rosenthal writes:
• A regular season beginning in early July and consisting of approximately 80 games. The number might not be exactly 80 — 78 and 82 are also possibilities.
The schedule would be regionalized: Teams would face opponents only from their own division and the same geographic division in the opposite league. An NL East club, for example, would face teams only from the NL East and AL East.
So it doesn’t look like the three, ten-team divisions is an option baseball is considering, which I believe most people will be happy to hear. Braves’ Chairman, Terry McGuirk, recently told the AJC there was no way the Braves were going to play in the Central division, which is where they would have been placed if there were only three divisions.
Rosenthal also confirmed that there would be an expanded playoff bracket, with seven teams from each league. The best record in each league will receive a bye, while the other two division winners and the best wild card team will face the other three wild card teams.
And as Rosenthal initially reported last week, the league will indeed ask players to take even more of a pay cut, since the games will take place without fans. This remains something the Players’ Union will push back on and is just another speed bump that could potentially sidetrack a 2020 season.
The last thing Rosenthal mentions is the possibility of expanded rosters. The 40-man could grow to about 40 to 50 players, while the 26-man is likely to be around 30. On top of everything Rosenthal reported, Jim Bowden added something that the league has been considering for years — a universal DH.
This makes sense for a multitude of reasons. It serves as an opportunity for the league to experiment with a DH in both leagues, and it also helps protect players in a season where injuries will likely be more frequent and could be devastating to a teams’ chances at the playoffs.
As always, with these reports, nothing is set in stone, and everything is fluid. There is still a lot that needs to happen for players to return to the field. However, an official plan is in place, so as long as we don’t see a second wave of the virus, expect baseball to return next month.