Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) have reached an agreement to help see baseball through the changes necessitated to the 2020 season by the current COVID19 coronavirus pandemic delay.
The deal covers roster issues, salaries for both Major and Minor League players, potential alterations to the 2020 MLB Amateur Draft, as well as contracts and bonuses to those draftees. It also covers potentialities for the season schedule and the postseason.
As far as impact on the Philadelphia Phillies, the changes impact the club and its players in a number of different ways, including:
Roster expansion: For the first month of the season, whenever it should begin, active rosters will expand from the new normal of 26 players to 29. This means that a few of the roster decisions for manager Joe Girardi and his staff should be a bit easier at the start. In particular, the pitching staff will have a couple of extra arms as hurlers build up to normal levels of activity and usage.
Service time: Perhaps the most important single issue for the players. The deal gives all players a full year of big-league service time at a minimum of the same number of days as they received in the 2019 season. This determines things such as eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration.
For the Phillies, J.T. Realmuto will continue towards free agency this coming fall unless Matt Klentak can get his signature on a new contract. Others who will be free agents this coming fall include Didi Gregorius, Jay Bruce, Jose Alvarez, and Tommy Hunter. Also, the contract option for Jake Arrieta is not likely to be picked up, making him a pending free agent as well.
Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Nick Pivetta, and Seranthony Dominguez will remain arbitration-eligible for the first time prior to the 2021 season. Zach Eflin will be second-year arbitration eligible. Vince Velasquez and Adam Morgan would have their third and final exposures to the arbitration process prior to the 2021 season should they not receive a contract extension.
The schedule would likely begin some time in early June and extend into October. This would push the postseason into November, with a possibility that some games could be moved to warm weather and/or indoor sites in the playoffs this year.
A freeze on all rosters begins today, Friday, March 27, 2020. It will remain in effect until MLB and the players jointly agree to lift, which will happen at some point once a start to the 2020 season is announced.
In anticipation of that roster freeze the Phillies demoted Williams, Cole Irvin, Austin Davis, Edgar Garcia, Reggie McClain, and Kyle Garlick to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday. Every one of those players is likely to see action with the big-league club at some point this summer as needs arise and their own performance dictates.