Major League Baseball is a go for 2020… What about the Barons?
We FINALLY came to the end of this money-grab between billionaires and millionaires to start the 2020 MLB season, and well, at least we get some type of baseball. Last week, Major League Baseball and its owners unanimously decided to implement a 60-game season, citing a March 26 agreement with the MLBPA that would give Rob Manfred the ability to implement a season if he saw fit. One thing was clear over the past three months, and that’s that both sides wanted to play baseball, but they wanted their money more. The players got what they wanted, which was full prorata (coming in at about 37% of their normal salaries) and the owners got what they wanted, which was not spending too much money on salaries this season, claiming that much of their salary money comes from ticket sales. We know that the season is 60 games, beginning with opening day on July 23, with “spring training” starting yesterday at each club’s home ballpark. The biggest rule change affects the National League, with the installation of a “universal DH,” meaning pitchers will not hit at all in 2020.
Each team gets to have 60 players on their roster, 20 of them non-roster invites to summer camp to try to make the 40 man roster for opening day. Teams will only be allowed 30 active players, eventually slimming down to the normal 26 men by mid-August. Three players not on the 26 man roster will be on the “taxi squad,” meaning they will travel with the team, but won’t play unless activated to the 26/28/30 man roster. All other players on the roster will go to an “alternate training site” to train and be ready for any call-up they could get to the MLB team. A player must be on the 40-man roster in order to be eligible to be on the active roster, so nothing has changed there.
Schedule wise, teams will play 10 games against each team in their division, with the other 20 coming from 4 games with each of the five teams from the same division of the other league; for instance, AL West v. NL West, and so on. In addition to all this, fans will more than likely not be permitted into the stadiums, though that final decision comes from state government officials.
In terms of the Barons, it’s not happening this year. Well, let me backtrack a little. It’s almost definitely not happening this year. Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee (Southern League team locations) are all seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases. The likelihood of fans being allowed to attend any sporting event in the state of Alabama isn’t great, especially seeing as how difficult it is to fill stands when everyone is six-feet apart, but I’m sure teams would take 10% attendance over completely empty stadiums. That being said, the decision on whether or not any MiLB affiliated league can play this season ultimately rests on Minor League Baseball.
With the “alternate training sites” being used, there will be no need to play a Triple-A season, meaning that there won’t be any minor league baseball in 2020, pushing Justin Jirschele’s managerial debut for the Barons back a season. Of course, this is just speculation. In terms of Barons’ players getting an invite to camp, there are not too many players. The only name that I was confident would play in Birmingham this season was Andrew Vaughn, and he could end up skipping Birmingham completely. Blake Rutherford and Bernardo Flores are on the White Sox 40-man roster, but they did not receive an invite to summer camp.
UPDATE: 6/30/20- I wrote the bulk of this article on Monday, June 29, prior to the announcement of the cancellation of the 2020 Minor League season. On Tuesday. Minor League Baseball released a statement, saying, “Major League Baseball has informed Minor League Baseball that it will not be providing its affiliated Minor League teams with players for the 2020 season. As a result, there will not be a Minor League Baseball season in 2020.” The Birmingham Barons released a statement of their own, saying, “We are disappointed we will not host a 2020 Birmingham Barons season at Regions Field this summer.”