After months of back and forths between MLB players, the MLBPA, commissioner Robert Manfred, and team owners, everybody's finally on the same page and we'll have baseball this year against all odds.
However, there were a lot of contradictory reports regarding the rules, perks, and demands of this one-of-a-kind season. Pro-rated salaries, player deciding to opt-out, a shortened schedule, banned home parks, you name it. We've heard it all and players haven't taken the diamond yet.
That's why we've put together the ultimate guide about the 2020 MLB season. Who'll play? Who won't? Will the new rules stand? How is this going to work? We'll walk you through everything you need to know about it.
How Many Games Will Be Played?
All 30 teams will participate in this shortened season. This time, however, there will only be 60 regular-season games rather than the usual 162. Also, the All-Star Game has been canceled due to this new schedule. Dodger Stadium will now host the 2022 All-Star Game.
It's also worth noticing that, in order to limit travel, teams will only play vs. 9 opponents instead of the usual 19 or 20. They'll play 10 games vs. every single one of their division rivals, while the remaining 20 games will be interleague matchups.
Where Will The Season Be Played?
Players didn't like the idea of moving the season to a 'bubble' as the NBA did. Thus, most teams will play on their ballparks, although no fans will be allowed until further notice. Some experts claim that could stand through the 2021 season.
Canadian government recently granted the Toronto Blue Jays an exception to allow them to practice at Roger Centre. However, given their recent restrictions and the closure of the U.S-Canada border, it's likely that they'll be forced to play at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, home of the Buffalo Bisons, their AAA affiliate.
Also, the Field of Dreams game will take place on August 13 at the mythical filming location in Dyersville, Iowa between the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. It'll be the first MLB game played in Iowa.
How Often Will Players Be Tested?
Major League Baseball will spare no efforts - or cash - to make sure players are as healthy as usual during this unusual season. Players will constantly get their temperatures checked and anything above 100.4 will send them back home.
Also, players will be tested for Covid-19 every other day unless their temperature tops 100.4. They'll be required to take their temperature before arriving at the ballpark. Anything unusual will force the player to go back home until further testing is conducted.
Who's Sitting Out The Season?
Thus far, just 11 players have excersized their right to sit out this season. Players deemed 'high-risk' won't lose their prorated salaries or service time, while players without that distinction will have to forfeit their paycheck.
Jordan Hicks, Michael Kopech, Buster Posey, Nick Markakis, Félix Hérnandez, Tyson Ross, David Price, Ian Desmond, Joe Ross, Ryan Zimmerman, and Mike Leake announced that they won't take the field until 2021.
New Permanent Rules
The league had announced new rules on February 12:
- Expansion of the roster from 25 to 26 players (max 13 pitchers). Teams playing double-headers may have an extra player just for that game.
- Size of expanded roster reduced from 40 to 28 players (max 14 pitchers).
- Players optioned to minor-league teams must spend at least 15 days with the team before being recalled.
- Teams must designate players as pitchers or position players before the start of the season.
- Only players designated as pitchers will be allowed to pitch this season, unless a team is leading by at least 7 runs or the game goes to extra innings.
- Players who pitch at least 20 innings and make at least three plate appearances as a position player or designated hitter in each of those 20 games will earn the status of "two-way player" for the remainder of the season and all of the next season.
- Pitchers placed in IL must spend at least 15 days on IL before being recalled.
- All pitchers must face a minimum of three batters unless he's injured or the inning ends.
- Time to challenge plays reduced from 30 to 20 seconds.
Temporary Rules For The 2020 Season
- Both leagues will have a designated hitter.
- Each team can invite up to 60 players to training camp.
- Teams can have up to 30 players on their opening day roster.
- The minimum option period for players is 10 days.
- There will be a 10-day IL list. The 60-day IL list will be reduced to 45 days.
- There will be a separate IL list for players who test positive for Covid-19.
- There will be no limitation for position players or pitchers.
- The trade deadline will be August 31.
- Players must be included in a team's 40-man roster before September 15 to be eligible for the postseason.
- Teams can carry up to three taxi-squad players in 2020; if a team carries three players, one of them must be a catcher.
- Extra innings start with a runner on second base. That runner must be the player in the batting order position immediately before the leadoff batter for the inning or a pinch-runner. If said runner scores, it will count as an unearned run. This rule won't apply to the playoffs.
- If a game is cut short due to weather conditions and hasn't become official yet, it'll be continued at a later date, not restarted.
Will There Be A New Playoff Format?
After claiming there wouldn't be any kind of changes in this year's playoffs format, Major League Baseball announced shortly before Opening Day that there will now be 16 teams in the postseason.
Now, every first and second-place division finisher will clinch a playoff berth. Also, the two teams with the best record in each league with the best record outside of those six will complete the playoffs field.