The Center for Disease Control issued out a recommendation against holding any events of more than 50 people for at least eight weeks. This kills the idea of playing games in front of no fans because each team easily has more than 50 people on site for a single baseball game. With the eight week recommendation, that likely puts the earliest possible time of a return to baseball activities to about the middle of May. With eight weeks of down time between any game-like activities and reps, that likely will require baseball to have an abbreviated Spring Training period so the starting pitchers can ramp up to a normal workload.
With the eight week pause combined with a second Spring Training period that could last 3-4 weeks, I doubt baseball can resume before June 1st. I listed June 15th as the earliest possible time of a return to baseball, although teams are preparing for the season to begin in July according to Bob Nightengale.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred having conference call at noon advising all teams to shut down their facilities. Several GMs are bracing for delay now as late as July— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 16, 2020
In a conference call, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred advised all 30 MLB teams to shut down their Spring Training facilities and to send the players home. Players on the 40-man roster and XX(B) Minor League free agents (i.e. players who were granted free agency but signed MiLB deals) are covered for an $1,100 stipend per week. However that puts the Minor League players in a financial bind due to not having a seat at the negotiating table.
With Manfred acknowledging that they’re pushing the start time from April 9th to middle of May, the owners still want the 162-game season. A regular 180-day season would push the regular season to Thanksgiving and the World Series to around Christmas, so that’s unlikely. The only ways to shorten the overall length of the season would be doubleheaders and less off days, but the Players Association will definitely push back hard on this. What will likely happen will be an abbreviated season that has a normal end time or extend a couple weeks later than usual. The two sides will have to negotiate out the length of the season and other issues before baseball can resume any sense of normalcy.
There is no definite timetable for when things will resume as normal, so all we can do is stay tuned for updates and do our best to contain the spread of the Corona Virus to ease the burden on hospitals. I advise avoiding large groups of people, but also to not let the virus prevent you from living a happy life either. When baseball is back on, we’ll be on it here at the Snake Pit.