After the news that broke on Wednesday, it appears that the Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of the Major League Baseball are the closest they have been to returning to play since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown began in March
Ladies and gentlemen… our long, national nightmare may be close to ending. That long national nightmare is the lack of Major League Baseball. However, it now appears that the Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of baseball are on the brink of returning.
According to a plethora of sources and MLB insiders, the MLB owners and the MLBPA are close to a deal to play. This, of course, is great news for the Pittsburgh Pirates and all of the MLB.
Breaking: MLB and players union are closing in on an agreement to play the 2020 season, via players. Deal expected to be for prorated pay and include expanded playoffs.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 17, 2020
Source: MLB proposal includes:
•60 games in 70 days
•Season starting July 19th/20th
•Full Prorated Salary
•Expanded Playoffs in 2020 and 2021
•Waiving of any potential grievance
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 17, 2020
If, or when, a deal is reached, it appears the MLB season will be somewhere between 60 and 65 games. Players will finally receive the fully prorated salaries they have been pushing for and deserve, and they will also agree to not file any sort of grievance against the league.
Furthermore, the MLB postseason will be extended to 16 teams. This means three extra teams from each league will make the postseason. These extended playoffs would likely be in place for the 2021 season as well.
Extended postseason play would obviously benefit every MLB team, the Pittsburgh Pirates included. This gives each team improved odds to make the postseason. Under this postseason format, the Pirates would have been a postseason team in both 2016 and 2018, two seasons in which they missed the postseason.
It also appears there is a rough timeline for when ‘Spring Training 2.0,’ as well as the regular season would begin.
If #MLB and the #MLPA complete their negotiations by Friday, the plan is that players will report to Spring Training 2.0 by June 29, with three full weeks of spring training. Most teams will train in their own home cities before starting the regular season July 19.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 17, 2020
This extra time will benefit many Pirate pitchers. There are Steven Brault and Clay Holmes who were hurt in March and appeared to be ticked for the injured list to start the season. There is also Chad Kuhl who was recovering from Tommy John Surgery, but has now had extra time to build his arm strength back up. Kuhl could now be the front runner for the spot in the Pirates’ starting rotation that has been opened up due to Chris Archer‘s surgery that will cost him the entire 2020 season.
At one point earlier in the week the odds of their being any sort of 2020 MLB season appeared to be bleak. That, however, has changed. Following Wednesday’s news, there now appears to be a renewed sense of optimism that a shortened season will be played.
Keep your fingers crossed, Pittsburgh Pirates fans, because we may be listening to Greg Brown’s voice, watching Josh Bell smash home runs and raising the Jolly Roger again soon!