Coronavirus: MLB owners approve deal to grant players service time


Major League Baseball owners have approved an agreement with the Players Association that will allow players to accrue service time if the 2020 season is shortened or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With players having agreed to the 17-page agreement on Thursday, the deal was approved by owners on Friday.

The terms of the deal include teams advancing $170 million for player payments during the hiatus that will not have to be reimbursed, though players will have to forfeit their salaries in the event a season cannot be played.

Players, such as big names Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, George Springer and J.T. Realmuto, who are set to become free agents after the 2020 season will also be allowed to test the market later in the year.

MLB will also have the right to cut the 2020 amateur draft from 40 rounds to five and the 2021 draft to 20 rounds, and signing bonuses will remain at 2019 levels for players selected in 2020.

Both sides also agreed to potentially increase the amount of double-headers and conduct games without fans once the season is cleared to begin, as well as the possibility of playing postseason games at neutral sites in November to reduce weather concerns.

Opening day was scheduled to begin Thursday, but MLB has pushed back the start of the season until mid-May at the earliest as a result of the spread of COVID-19.

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