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MLBPA asks for more coronavirus testing than currently proposed

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NEW YORK — The baseball players’ association gave management a wide-ranging response Thursday to a 67-page proposed set of protocols for a season to be played during the coronavirus pandemic.

Management had presented the union and the 30 teams the proposed draft last Friday.

The union said Thursday it addressed: protections for high-risk players, access to pre- and postgame therapies, testing frequency, protocols for positive tests, in-stadium medical personnel and sanitization procedures.

Players viewed many of the concepts in the original draft as over-the-top, such as arriving in uniform at the ballparks, a prohibition on them leaving without team permission and a ban on guests other than immediate family members. Players also objected to a ban on the use of showers and hydrotherapy.

The union wants more frequent testing than management’s proposed “multiple times per week.”

MLB is expected to make an economic proposal to the union within a few days. MLB hopes to start the season by early July.

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Shortened MLB amateur draft to remain at New Jersey studio

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NEW YORK — Major League Baseball’s shortened amateur draft will remain at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey, for the first round on June 10.

MLB shortened the selections to five rounds and 160 picks in response to the new coronavirus pandemic, by far the fewest since the draft started in 1965. Before the pandemic, the draft had been scheduled to take place at Omaha, Nebraska, ahead of the now-canceled College World Series.

Clubs were able to reduce the draft as part of their March 26 agreement with the players’ association. The combined value of their signing bonus pools is $235,906,800 and the amount of signing bonus pool money eliminated is $29,578,100.

The first 37 picks will take place on the opening day and the remainder on June 11. The deadline for selected players to sign was pushed back from July 10 to Aug. 1.

Detroit picks first, followed by Baltimore, Miami and Kansas City.

Houston was stripped of its first- and second-round selections as part of MLB penalties for using a video camera to steal catcher’s signs. Boston lost its second-round selection for improper use of video.

Baseball’s draft was long held by conference call at the commissioner’s office in New York. The draft was moved to Lake Buena Vista, Florida, for 2007 and 2008.

Residents of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico are subject to the draft.

As part of the agreement with the union, slot values to determine signing bonus pools will remain at 2019 levels and players passed over in the draft are limited to signing bonuses of $20,000 or less. That might cause more high school players to go to college. And because of the NCAA’s limit of 11.7 baseball scholarships, the change may lead to more prospects attending junior college.

All but six of last year’s sixth-round picks signed for $200,000 or more. Chicago Cubs catcher/first baseman Ethan Hearn had the highest bonus of the round at $950,000, deciding to sign rather than attend Mississippi State. San Francisco signed right-hander John McDonald, selected 326th on the 11th round, for $797,500, and Arizona gave left-hander Avery Short, picked 362nd on the 12th round, $922,500.

Among 1,082 players who were in a big league game last year after coming through the draft, 180 were first-round picks and 589 were selected during the first five rounds, according to the commissioner’s office. There were 204 from rounds six to 10, 102 from rounds 11-15 and 63 from rounds 16-20. Just 74 were from rounds 21-30 and only 50 from rounds 31-50.

Once unlimited, the draft was cut to 50 rounds in 1998 and to 40 rounds in 2012.

Signing bonus pools started in 2012 and limit the amount of money teams can spend. Each slot in the first 10 rounds is a signed a value — the range last year was $8,415,300 down to $142,200 — and each team’s values are added to a form a pool. Signing bonuses in the first 10 rounds count against the pool along with the amounts above $125,000 of players selected after the 10th round or who were bypassed in the draft and then signed.

A team that exceeds its pool is taxed, and a club more than 5% above loses a first-round draft pick the next year — a threshold never reached.

The union turned down a proposal that would have kept rounds 6-10 in exchange for cutting their slot values in half.

Teams drafted 1,217 players over 40 rounds last June.

As part of the deal with the union, teams have the right to cut the 2021 draft to as few as 20 rounds. That fits in MLB’s proposal to cut their minimum minor league affiliations from 160 to 120 in 2021, allowing each organization to drop one farm team.

For both 2020 and ’21, only up to $100,000 of each signing bonus is due within 30 days of approval and 50% of the remainder on July 1 in both 2020 and ’21.

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Tim Kurkjian’s Baseball Fix – The day Mike Schmidt realized it was time to go

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You love baseball. Tim Kurkjian loves baseball. So while we await its return, every day we’ll provide you with a story or two tied to this date in baseball history.

ON THIS DATE IN 1989, Mike Schmidt retired.

Schmidt had played in 42 games that season, he was tied for second in home runs (six) by National League third basemen at the time, and he was the active career leader in homers, RBIs, runs scored and total bases. But, at age 39, his recent play had been unacceptable to him.

The full “On this date …” archive

“We were on the bus, leaving [San Francisco’s] Candlestick [Park] for the airport to fly to San Diego,” said Bob Dernier, then a Phillies outfielder. “Mike was in the back of the bus with Chris James, Bedrock (Steve Bedrosian) and a few others. Mike looked at us and said, ‘I think that’s it, I’m done.’ Chris James started bawling. He said, ‘No, no, Mike, you can’t!’ Mike told me, ‘I can’t catch. I can’t throw.’ He was embarrassed about his defense. Defense was so important to him. He used to tell me that the All-Star team should be the Gold Glove team. He valued that more than anything, even when he was leading the league in home runs.”

Schmidt won 10 Gold Gloves; only Brooks Robinson (16) won more at third base. Schmidt led the National League in home runs eight times, which remains an NL record. He finished with 548 homers, most by a third baseman. His combination of power offensively and grace and skill defensively was breathtaking; indeed, he could play the piano and move it, too. Schmidt won three MVPs, including back-to-back years, and finished third two other times. By most measures, he is the greatest third baseman ever.

And yet it was never enough for Schmidt; he was constantly fretting about his swing. Nearly 30 years after retirement, he told me, “When I was struggling, if you had told me that I should set up in the box with my back to the pitcher, I would have tried it.”

Schmidt was hitting .203 at the time he retired. So he accompanied the team to San Diego that night, and officially announced his retirement the following day. It was so emotional. He broke down several times.

“As soon as Mike said he was done, Bedrock and I started planning the celebratory party,” Dernier said. “We were going to get Harry [Kalas, the club’s legendary play-by-play broadcaster] to speak, we were thinking about getting some Heinkens on ice. We had a great party. We were all so sad to see him go, but he had so much pride in his play, who was I to argue with that? I saw him do some amazing things. Mike was just mesmerizing.”

Other baseball notes for May 29

  • In 1981, Ellis Valentine was traded from the Expos to the Mets. In 1982, Valentine pointed his right pinky finger in my face and said, “I have more talent in this finger than most players have in their entire body.”

  • In 2010, Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game. He won the NL Cy Young Award that year. He had a replica Cy Young made for his catcher, Carlos Ruiz, because, Halladay said, Ruiz had so much to do with his success.

  • In 1941, Joe DiMaggio struck out for the third time all year. He would finish the season with 30 homers, 13 strikeouts and a 56-game hitting streak. I wrote that stat 35 years ago, and a radio guy got a little mixed up, saying, “I just read the other day an amazing stat: In the year that Babe Ruth hit 60 homers, he struck out only 13 times.” Yikes.

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Biggest needs and best fits — 2020 MLB draft guide for all 30 teams

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The 2020 MLB draft, to be held June 10 and 11, will be unlike any other. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the draft will be conducted remotely and limited to just five rounds, down from 40 in 2019. Teams will be able to sign an unlimited number of undrafted players, at a price of $20,000.

Additionally, college and high school prospects had their spring seasons cut short or eliminated altogether, leaving MLB teams with much less information on the players than they typically would have.

Here is a guide for all 30 teams, with each organization’s greatest needs, the best fits in the draft, each team’s typical approach, a list of its picks this year and more.

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