Source: MLB might OK service time

Source: MLB might OK service time

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Mookie Betts and all the players set to be free agents after the 2020 season would still get that chance if there is no baseball this year, part of a broad deal being negotiated by the commissioner’s officer and the players’ association.

If there’s no season because of the new coronavirus, the agreement would credit major leaguers with the same service time this year that they earned in 2019, a person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing.

Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, George Springer, JT Realmuto also would be eligible for free agency, even if the season is canceled.

Service time affects a player’s status for free agency, salary arbitration and the pension plan. The likely service time agreement was first reported by The Athletic.

Betts, the 2018 AL MVP, was acquired by the Dodgers from Boston last month for outfielder Alex Verdugo and two prospects. In a pair of deals at last July’s trade deadline contemplating they would get a top pitcher for 1 1/3 seasons, Cincinnati obtained Bauer from Cleveland and the Mets received Stroman from Toronto.

Service time affects a player’s status for free agency, salary arbitration and the pension plan. The likely service time agreement was first reported by The Athletic.

Major League Baseball and the union would agree to try to play as many regular season games as possible, the person said. They also would agree to explore one-time changes to the postseason, which would create the possibility of expanded playoffs this year.

They would consider multiple schedule options that would take into account player health and safety, economics and ballpark availability. Possible changes might include increased doubleheaders, extending the regular season into October and even November and using neutral sites with warm weather and roofs if needed for the postseason.

If the season needs to squeeze more games into a condensed season without exhausting pitching staffs, perhaps this idea could get tossed into play: seven-inning doubleheaders.

“Maybe that’s something we have to consider,” Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on a conference call Wednesday.

The math: By averaging nine games a week, a team could play 162 games in 18 weeks, eight fewer than usual. That means MLB could start as late as July and play a full schedule by extending the regular season through October.

Opening day was scheduled for Thursday but has been pushed back to mid-May at the earliest due to the new coronavirus. A full service year usually is 172 days, and the season was set to be 186 days long. No matter how many games are played this season, a player on the active roster or injured list for the entire season would receive a full season of service.

Opening day broadcasts

Major League Baseball will air 30 games across its digital platforms Thursday, giving fans plenty of hardball to choose from on an opening day postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

MLB will air one memorable game for each franchise on its YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages.

The list includes Dave Roberts’ series-shifting stolen base for the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the 2003 AL Championship Series, the Chicago Cubs ending their championship drought in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, and perfect games by Félix Hernández and Mark Buehrle.

MLB Network plans to broadcast classic opening day games throughout the day, including Derek Jeter’s debut in 1996, and SiriusXM also plans to carry memorable season openers. ESPN2 is airing a Home Run Derby marathon starting with Pete Alonso’s impressive show from last summer.

Yankees’ Judge still waiting

Injured New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (right pectoral muscle, shoulder, lung) still has not resumed baseball activities, the team said.

The team also said nearly all its minor leaguers would be released from quarantine Thursday. Two Yankees minor leaguers tested positive for the coronavirus, and one will still be in his 14-day quarantine.

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TAMPA, Fla. — Zack Britton knows what it’s like to play baseball in an empty stadium. With the Orioles, he pitched in that April 29, 2015 game against the White Sox at Camden Yards. With riots after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in Baltimore, MLB ruled the game would go on without fans. Britton recalled it was eerie and not a lot of fun, but in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic he agrees it could be the way to restart baseball.

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