AP source: deal would set Mookie Betts free next fall


NEW YORK (AP) – Mookie Betts and all players who will become free agents after the 2020 season would still have that chance if there is no baseball this year, part of the deal negotiated by the commissioner and player association officer. .

If there is no season due to the new coronavirus, the deal would give major leagues the same length of service 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 the talks were ongoing.

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

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

Service time affects the player's status for free agency, salary arbitration, and the pension plan. The probable 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 would also agree to explore unique changes in the postseason, creating the possibility of expanded playoffs this year.

They would consider multiple scheduling options that would take into account the health and safety of the players, the economy and the availability of the stadium. Possible changes may include increasing doubleheads, extending the regular season to October and even November, and using neutral sites with warm weather and roofs if necessary for the postseason.

"A week in the World Series would allow a great test to open a sponsorship path," said agent Scott Boras, a longtime defender of a neutral site World Series. "It would give players the ability to be in one place for seven games and lessen the journey after what will be a very difficult schedule to reach the World Series."

If less than a full regular season takes place, a player would receive only a proportional part of his salary.

Management would have the right to delay the amateur draft of its scheduled start on June 10 and shorten it from its current 40 rounds. The teams could also delay the start of the international amateur signing period, which is usually July 2.

As part of a deal, management would advance the money that would be awarded to players at the lower end of the salary scale.

Opening day was scheduled for Thursday, but was delayed in mid-May at the earliest due to the new coronavirus. A full-service year is generally 172 days, and the season was set at 186 days. No matter how many games are played this season, a player on the active roster or disabled list throughout the season would receive a full season of service.

Players need six years of service in the big leagues to become free agents, and they didn't want their eligibility to be delayed if the entire season is canceled. Service time also determines when players become eligible for salary arbitration, which is approximately 2 years, 120 days.

The formats for the regular season and the postseason will be decided later, when it becomes clearer when the season can begin. Management has already made proposals to change the postseason format in 2022, including a plan that would expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 14.

"It's probably an opportunity to get creative or to try some things that people think might hold up a little bit or be kind of a segue to something different in the future," said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. "But it certainly is an opportunity to try some things that you wouldn't otherwise try in a normal 162-game environment where everything goes according to plan."


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