Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association came to an agreement on health and safety protocols for the upcoming 2021 season Monday night. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has put together a list of those protocols as well as roster rules and procedures for the upcoming season. Be sure to click through on the link, but here are some highlights of what to expect.
For medical and testing protocols, players and any of their household will have to conduct a five day at home quarantine before reporting to spring training. Once they have arrived, they will undergo intake screening. Covid testing will continue for every other day through spring training, the regular season and the postseason. Like in the NBA and NFL, players and field staff will be required to wear Kinexon devices to assist in contact tracing. Also, players and on field staff will be required to wear a mask correctly while in the dugout or in the bullpen. The big difference this time is that anyone violating those protocols will be subject to discipline by their team and the league.
Major League Baseball is reportedly finalizing a revised Grapefruit League schedule. Rosenthal’s reporting expands on that indicating that the spring will be split up into three phases. The first phase will include individual and small group workouts. The second will feature full squad workouts while phase three will have a limited number of spring training games.
As far as playing rules go, the 2020 season rules for doubleheaders and extra inning games will be in effect. Players will not be allowed to access any communal video terminals, but will have access to tablets in the dugout with preloaded content and in-game video. The rule adds that the footage will be in a format that cannot be used to steal signs. Having no access to video was one of the loudest complaints by some players during the 2020 season and the league seems to have addressed that here.
As far as roster construction goes, teams will be required to submit up to 75 players by February 12 for Spring Training. There will be a 26-man roster for Opening Day. Clubs will also have to submit up to 28 players that will either be assigned to Triple-A or to an Alternate Training Site. We will have to see how that plays out, but this seems to cast some doubt as too when the minor league season might be able to start. Teams will also be allowed to carry up to five additional players, including at least one catcher, on road trips as a taxi squad. Rosters will expand to 28 as normal on September 1 and teams will be permitted to carry an extra player for doubleheaders.
The Braves haven’t officially announced when players will report to North Port but the expectation is that it will occur sometime between February 15-17. It is likely that many of these rules could be altered at some point as well and it will be interesting to see how they end up handling players not on the active roster once the regular season is underway.
UPDATE - The league has officially announced its health and safety protocols for 2021.