It might sound far-fetched, but maybe we are being sheltered from the true horror. The worst-case scenario sees two-thirds of the US population infected in the epidemic that could last for over a year.
Currently, mid-May is the earliest that we could see the start of the Major League Baseball season. It is likely that, in the next couple of weeks, we will learn that Wimbledon and the Tour de France are cancelled, and the Olympics postponed for a year. It really wouldn’t be surprising if we saw MLB delay Opening Day to July.
And then, you only need a couple of pushbacks or hold-ups, and suddenly we’re in September. Will MLB play regular season games for four weeks to determine the postseason?
The UK’s best-case scenario is losing 0.03% of the population, which equates to 100,000 fatalities in the USA. It’s tough to see Rob Manfred having the appetite to operate a Mickey Mouse mini-tournament instead of buying himself another eight months by delaying until April 2021.
But enough about the serious stuff, let us allow our minds to drift. What happens if there is no baseball until 2021?
It is another year without the Yankees winning the World Series, so every cloud …
But they will still be World Series favourites. Maybe James Paxton and Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks will be healthy. Luis Severino will be a year closer to a return. What happens with Domingo German’s 81-game punishment for domestic violence? Is it carried over to the 2021 season or written off?
What about the Red Sox? Are they nearer to or further away from contention? Chris Sale‘s lost season didn’t hurt as much. Triston Casas, Jeter Downs, Jarren Duran and Bobby Dalbec will still be keen to make the jump. Who knows, even Dustin Pedroia might be healthy. What we do know is that with only $126 million on the books, they could make the biggest splash in the free agent market?
And the biggest splash is Mookie Betts. After that whole messy Betts/Price affair, could the Mookster leave LA without ever making an appearance? Could he rejoin Boston to play the outfield with Alex Verdugo?
Do the Cardinals & Cubs try to come over to London again? Does St Louis say goodbye to their now-free agent catcher, Yadier Molina? Which one of the trio of studs (Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant) does Chicago trade before Opening Day?
Less high profile but equally intriguing, do the Marlins get to keep elite ground ball pitcher Sterling Sharp who they claimed off the Nationals in the Rule 5 draft? He has to remain on Miami’s 26-man roster all year.
The $1.2 billion retractable-roof stadium in Arlington would have spent a whole year unused. And what about Corey Kluber? His club option for 2021 would have become guaranteed had he pitched 160 innings for Texas. The Rangers surely aren’t throwing $18 million at him after they gave him $17.5 million for 2020.
Everyone’s favourite pantomime villain, Trevor Bauer, will be a free agent. Will he be able to persuade a team to pay him an eye-watering amount for a one-year deal to start every four days. Seems a tough ask as he posted 7.25 ERA in his final eight starts with the Reds.
In fact, the Reds are big losers in this scenario, having invested heavily for 2020 success. They might say goodbye to Nick Castellanos before he plays one regular season game for them.
Another free agent after October is Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz. Does the veteran slugger, who turns 40 this summer, seek another deal or retire?
In Anaheim, they would have had to wait one year longer to see Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon in the lineup, but, an extra year away from his Tommy John surgery, makes Shohei Ohtani more likely to be the true two-way superstar that we all fell in love with.
Assuming that it still goes ahead, the Detroit Tigers will draft Spencer Torkelson or Emerson Hancock with the first pick in the upcoming June Amateur draft, but who gets the first pick in the 2021 draft? Is the order kept the same? Does MLB adopt Bob’s suggestion?
And of course, what about the Astros? Maybe COVID-19 will change life and society forever. Will disgruntled pitchers still want to drill Houston’s hitters? Will opposing fans still be demanding retribution? Will George Springer start Opening Day in another team’s colours? Will Dusty Baker still be the Astros manager? Will it be deemed that Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch have served their one-year suspension?
So many questions.
I realise that if there were no MLB in the whole of 2020, then far too many aspects of life would be more important than the status of a Rule 5 baseball player in Florida, but hopefully, this article gave you a distraction for a couple of minutes.
Stay safe, wash your hands, and don’t take your sniffle to your Gran’s.
IMPORTANT: Hey, the next few months will be tough for all of us. The UK baseball community is one large extended family. We are here to help, and together we will all get through it. Reach out to us on Twitter @BatFlips_Nerds – our DMs are open.