Players agreed to a deal with Major League Baseball that would preserve service time in the event this season is canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic but left open details of what a configured schedule would look like.
As part of the agreement approved by the union Thursday night, players will not challenge the loss of their salaries if no games are played.
Management will advance $170 million in salary payments over two stages, and that money does not have to be returned if the season is canceled. Player salaries this year are expected to total roughly $4 billion.
Management was given the right to cut the amateur draft in both 2020 and 2021 and to freeze the values of signing bonus money at 2019 levels.
Teams are set to approve the roughly 17-page agreement Friday, the person said.
Opening day was to have been Thursday but was pushed back to mid-May at the earliest because of the virus outbreak. The spring training schedule was cut short on March 12 because on the pandemic, and it remains unclear when and if baseball can resume.
Both sides agreed to make a “good faith effort” to schedule as many games as possible this year, subject to government rules, travel, player health, and economic feasibility.
Seven-inning games for doubleheaders have not been given much discussion but also have not been ruled out.
Players considered service time the key, and older players were willing to give up money to keep younger colleagues on track for big-money contracts next offseason.
If there are no games this year, anyone currently on a 40-man roster, 60-day injured list or an outright assignment to the minor leagues with a major league contract would receive 2020 service time equaling what the player accrued in 2019. If a partial season is played, service time would be the equivalent of what the player would have received over a full schedule.
Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, George Springer, and JT Realmuto would be eligible for free agency, even if no games are played. The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Betts from Boston just before spring training with the assumption they would have the 2018 AL MVP for one season.