Chicago Cubs: MLB, MLBPA focus on health, safety and the DH early in talks

If the Chicago Cubs and the rest of Major League Baseball are to take the field this year, a number of things will have to align perfectly in coming weeks.

We know that revenue discussions and player salaries remain a major sticking point between Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association. That being said, on day one of talks, the topic was player safety and health – a strong first step, especially for several Chicago Cubs players.

That makes sense. It’s something the league and the players should agree on: taking extraordinary measures to ensure player health and safety is common ground, giving talks some positive momentum right out of the gate. According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN, here’s a snapshot of what was covered in the discussions:

Items addressed include timing and logistics for a second spring training, potential rule changes, roster sizes and transaction rules. A good bulk of the meeting revolved around COVID-19 testing protocols, including contact tracing and response procedures in case of positive tests. Details for much of the health and safety concerns will be relayed to the association in the coming days.

What I personally take away from this is it was very much a high-level discussion – the details aren’t out there yet and I don’t suspect they will be until later this week. Talks could last several weeks, according to Rogers. The clock is ticking if a psuedo-spring training is to take place next month with baseball returning in early July.

Major League Baseball will do whatever is in its power to make sure players, staff and everyone involved in the sport’s return are as safe as possible. I don’t think anyone doubts that in any way, shape or form. All of this is fluff in terms of its potential to derail the game’s return this summer. It’s going to come down to – you guessed it – money.

Now, if you’ll recall, owners approved a plan earlier this year to pay players a prorated portion of their 2020 salary in the event of a shortened season. However, given the significant losses organizations will suffer due to COVID-19 keeping fans out of stadiums for the foreseeable future, they’re now looking to alter said deal. Needless to say it’s a complicated, hot-button topic – and one that’s been deemed a ‘non-starter’ by the MLBPA.

Next: Significant hurdles remain if there is to be baseball this year

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Also coming out of the first day of talks: the players are widely expected to approve the universal designated hitter this year. We delved into this possibility recently while also taking a look at three candidates to serve as the Cubs’ DH in the shortened 2020 campaign.