This deal had to happen one way or another, plain and simple. If the season starts late, that causes a set of questions. If the season is cancelled, yet another set. Play 80, yup, you guessed it another set still.
The two sides did their very best to plan for all scenarios and create the possibility of returning to play, here are the major takeaways.
- Players will all be credited service time based on a full 162 game season no matter the length of the 2020 season. If it’s cancelled entirely, players will receive the same level they earned in 2019. I’m sure there are some instances where that won’t work quite so well but it is what it is.
This would mean players like Mookie Betts would never have to play one game for LA. Keone Kela would leave Pittsburgh with the Pirates getting no return at all for him. I do wonder how the league would handle Arbitration numbers heading into 2021 should the season be cancelled but that wasn’t touched on.
- Players on the 40-man roster will be paid and here is how it will work. A lump of 170 million will be put up and based on a scale of service time players will get a cut. The first installment will be paid on April 15th and should the season resume, their salaries will pick up on a pro-rated bases depending on the number of games played.
- There will be a draft, but in no way is it normal. Rather than the 40 rounds, it will be reduced to five rounds, the only source I can find for this information is The Athletic. I like to have two before I put something out there but at this point several outlets are running with it so we’ll take it as gospel. The players won’t get a signing bonus up front, it will be 10% and 45% the following two years. This is odd to say the least. I wonder how they came to the five round number and I also wonder who if anyone was fighting for these future players if I’m honest.
Does this answer all our burning questions, no. Does this tell us when the season starts, again, no. It tells us a few things though; the two sides have little will to play less than 100 games and the ramifications could really set back the efforts of teams looking to build by moving contracts for prospects could be dire.
I wonder what happens to the players that would have been selected in the other 35 rounds, do they just go to college? Are they free agents like the NHL does for undrafted players?
The Pirates in particular will face a series of new questions, not many pleasant. On top of losing the ability to stockpile in the draft losing the precious ability to get return for players like Jarrod Dyson, Keone Kela, Chris Archer among others could really set things back. Cody Ponce is a great example on what a renal can return, and while you haven’t seen much of him, I promise the Bucs did well to receive him as a return for Jordan Lyles.
If the season is cancelled the Pirates will be forced to bring back Chris Archer with his last option. His value would be no better than it is today, and they’d have little choice but to have him start the season as a Pirate anyway.
Listen, this isn’t a story about how the Pirates will suffer and everyone else will thrive, but the Yankees and Dodgers can and will buy their way out of it.
The best thing that could happen is obviously the season starting in June and all of us returning to some semblance of normalcy. If not, we head straight from the disappointment of losing a season, to the uncertainty of labor peace. But that’s a story for another column and another day.