Major League Baseball is considering a plan that would start the regular season in late June or early July with the hope of playing approximately 100 games before a modified version of the postseason.
Games would likely be played without fans.
“It’s something that could work for everybody,” said an official who requested anonymity because the plan still has several hurdles to clear including the approval of medical experts. “There is a lot of momentum to the idea that we will have some kind of season.”
The idea, which was first reported by USA Today, would realign teams in three 10-team divisions based on geography to reduce travel. The Red Sox would join the Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Phillies, Orioles, Nationals, Pirates, Rays, and Marlins in the East.
The Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Indians, Reds, Royals, Tigers, Twins, and White Sox would be in the Central.
The Astros, Athletics, Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Padres, Rangers, and Rockies would be in the West.
It’s uncertain whether games would initially take place in Florida and Arizona before moving to home ballparks. That is likely to be contingent on the status of the coronavirus pandemic.
Players also would get a brief period of spring training, two or three weeks, to prepare for the season. Rosters would be significantly expanded to account for baseball having been shut down since mid-March.
MLB officials floated an idea earlier this month that would have all 30 teams play the season in Arizona while quarantined in hotels without their families.
This new option would allow for players to potentially live at their in-season homes with their families. The increased availability of testing would make that a possibility.
MLB could mitigate any public health concerns by following the lead of European soccer leagues and donating test kits to replace any needed by a player, staffer or family member.
Any plan to start the season would be contingent on MLB and the Players Association agreeing on a split of the proceeds, the bulk of which would be derived from television broadcasts.
While potentially a contentious issue, both sides understand that dickering over money would be atrocious optics at a time when fans are hungering to see games again.