Baseball is back! The Players’ Association has agreed to report to training camps for July 1 with eyes on a possible start date as early as July 23 or 24. The season will be 60 games, which represents Major League Baseball’s shortest schedule since 1878.
So, what is this 60-game sprint going to look like? Here’s what we know so far…
- Teams are going to be playing geographically-based schedules in order to limit necessary travel. 10 games will be played against each divisional rival, meaning 40 of the Blue Jays’ 60 games will be against the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Orioles. The other 20 games will be played against the corresponding interleague division. So, in Toronto’s case, the National League East.
- With that in mind, the Jays are certainly in tough when it comes to their schedule. The only sub-500 teams (based on their 2019 record) the Jays are set to play in the shortened season are Baltimore and Miami. The Red Sox being worse this year than they were last year could help, but this will still certainly be an uphill battle for the Jays.
- Despite plenty of talk about expanding the post-season field, as of right now, the league will remain with 10 teams making the playoffs. This could change though, apparently.
- The National League will adopt the designated hitter for the 2020 season. MLB proposed a deal that would have also seen the universal DH adopted for the 2021 season (which ultimately would have seen it shoehorned in permanently) but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The plan, for now, is to have the universal DH for only 2020.
- In an attempt to avoid marathon games, extra innings situations will now begin with a runner on second base. This will only be a thing for the regular season and not the playoffs. There will also be a wrinkle to games that get suspended due to weather. Rather than games (that don’t reach five innings) getting wiped and started from scratch at a later date, any game that gets rained out will be paused and picked up from the pause point at a later date. The goal here is to avoid long weather delays in which players are sitting around together in a small-ish space. The league is also going to avoid double-headers for that same reason.
- The league is currently operating under a transaction freeze, but that’ll be lifted on Friday. The trade deadline will be shoved back to Aug. 31 and the deadline for postseason eligibility will be Sept. 15.
- Teams will begin the season with a 30-man roster that will slowly be widdled down. After two weeks, it’ll be a 28-man roster, and then, two more weeks after that, it’ll be a 26-man roster.
- Since there isn’t going to be any minor league baseball this season, teams will be able to have a 60-man pool of players. Half of those players will be assigned to a taxi squad located at a different location than the team’s home ballpark. There will still be the restrictions of a 40-man roster, but the taxi squad players can be sent to an alternate extended spring training site to stay warm in case they get the call.
- We still have no idea where the Blue Jays are going to play. The Canadian government has agreed to waive the 14-day quarantine period for Toronto, Edmonton, or Vancouver if they’re selected to be an NHL playoff “hub” city, but having players constantly coming in and out of Toronto presents a different challenge.
- The Blue Jays’ facility in Dunedin is an option for their home games, but playing outdoors through the slog of Florida weather in July and August isn’t ideal. Another option is sharing Tropicana Field with the Rays. Playing in Buffalo has also been mentioned as a possible solution.
This whole thing is going to be chaos. Let’s get weird.