NEW YORK, N.Y. – Major League Baseball is considering skipping its amateur draft this year and putting off the next international signing period as a way to preserve cash while games are affected by the new coronavirus, people familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press.
Talks between management and the players' association are ongoing and include the contentious issue of major league service time, which determines eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration. MLB has proposed crediting full service for 130 games or more and proportional service for a shorter season, the people said on condition of anonymity because those details have not been made public.
The union has taken the position that a full season of service should be credited even if no games are played, one of the people said.
Scheduling has been left open since there is no way to determine when the season could start.
Opening day has been pushed back from March 26 to mid-May at the earliest, and both sides are committed to playing as many games as possible.
Some radical solutions, such as more doubleheaders and playing deep into autumn by using enclosed stadiums and warm-weather sites, have not been thoroughly discussed yet.
With the prospect of expected cash not coming in from tickets, broadcast and sponsorship contracts, teams have told the commissioner's office they are fearful they may have to lay off administrative staff. Signing bonuses for amateur players total about $400 million annually.
Baseball moved the first round of the draft to Omaha, Nebraska, ahead of the College World Series in June, but the CWS was canceled last week. The international signing period runs from July 2 to June 15.