Pirates GM: No Talk Of Total MLB Shutdown Amid Coronavirus Fears
Pirates GM Ben Cherington said that there has "not been any discussion about a total shutdown" of the MLB season amid talk of pushing the start of the regular season back until "at least late May or early June," according to Alex Stumpf of DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.com. Cherington said, "Our hope is with every intention, there will be a season. That we will play major-league games, minor-league games in 2020. Play as many of them as we can, both at the major-league and minor-league level. I think there's a level of confidence that will happen, but of course none of us can know for sure" (DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.com, 3/17). ESPN.com's Jeff Passan noted MLB "continues to negotiate" with the MLBPA about "potential payment to players, service-time considerations and other similar considerations that could largely depend on when the season resumes." The league's "uniform player contract includes a provision that allows Manfred to suspend contracts -- and payment of them -- in the case of a national emergency, which President Trump has declared." Also on the agenda for the league is "figuring out how to compensate minor league players, who received their last paycheck at the end" of the '19 season and were "paid only a per diem" during Spring Training (ESPN.com, 3/17).
TAKING CARE OF THEIR OWN: The Padres yesterday said that they will "continue to pay minor league players their spring training per diems -- about $160 a week -- relieving some concerns that ran rampant when the Padres sent them home over the weekend." In San Diego, Jeff Sanders notes the pay is "expected to continue through April 8, which would have been the end of their spring training." A Padres spokesperson said that MLB is "still working on a compensation plan for what would have been the start of the minor league season April 9." Baseball America reported that the Dodgers, Red Sox, Rays and Mets also have "outlined plans to compensate minor league players who generally do not receive pay until the season is underway" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/18). In S.F., Matt Kawahara, citing an MLBPA memo sent Monday, notes players who "return home or relocate to their teams' major-league cities will receive $1,100 per week living allowance from the players union through April 9, or whenever teams resume paying that allowance." That "applies to players on 40-man rosters and some non-roster invitees but does not include minor-league players" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/18).
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY? In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes it is time for MLB to "get creative and make the game refreshingly attractive upon its return." That means "intelligent marketing" and "bringing fans an up-close look at players they know mostly from performance." With a "few creative thinkers in charge," it "could help restore the game's traditional appeal." Jenkins: "Whatever changes may come, the marketing angle is an absolute must for this troubled game, and the timing will be crucial." The whole idea is to "get close to these elite athletes, see how they live and interact with loved ones." Let them "tell stories about their upbringing, their most compelling moments on the field, how things changed over the long, disruptive break" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/18). In DC, Thomas Boswell writes when MLB "does return, like many ordinary wonderful things, it suddenly will seem like an extraordinary wonderful thing" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/18).