Report: MLB Expected to Officially Close Spring Training Facilities Monday

Update: According to subsequent reports from Gould, MLB is merely limiting informal workouts and not locking camps completely.

Tension had been building between players and teams over access to spring training facilities in the wake of MLB’s shutdown, prompting a league memo with instructions for how to proceed. Among other points, it noted that “40-Man Roster players must be permitted to remain at the Club’s Spring Training site, and are eligible to receive their usual Spring Training allowances.” However, it went on to require social distancing through the avoidance of any group activities.

Non-roster players and all but a skeleton crew of team staff were sent to their offseason homes in anticipation of a break that could last well into May or even beyond. Most Cubs players were expected to remain in the Mesa area, with players from other teams presumably doing the same, both to maintain some semblance of routine and fulfill the remainder of their spring housing agreements.

That’s where problems arose, as Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drelich reported for The Athletic. With labor unrest already at the forefront of the sport, players had grown suspicious of the “apparent inclination of some clubs to close their facilities.” As concerns over the spread of coronavirus have spread and additional CDC guidelines have essentially guaranteed a much later start to the season, however, it appears as though MLB is going to shut camps down entirely.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals players are packing up their gear and leaving the facility. Official word from MLB is expected shortly, but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was at the Cardinals’ facility for a conference call with owners and league officials. Goold tweeted that “players have been alerted to head home, figure out individual workouts,” as even informal team activities have been suspended.

If you weren’t already skeptical about the season starting at any point prior to June, this should be a wake-up call. Even if the CDC guidance on avoiding gatherings of 50 or more people remains at eight weeks, we’re looking at May 10 as the very earliest date by which spring training could resume. This is basically like going back to November and starting the offseason all over again.

Ed note: Rosenthal shared several points of memo from union to agents this morning, among which are details of a transaction freeze and allowances for players who choose to head home or to their team’s city. Talks that began last week to cover some of the necessary concessions for a shortened season will continue.

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