MLB, Union Agree On Health, Safety Protocols (www.mlb.com)

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have reached an agreement on health and safety protocols for Spring Training and the 2021 regular season, sources told MLB Network insiders Joel Sherman and Ken Rosenthal. Yahoo Sports’ Hannah Keyser was first to report Monday that a deal could be in place.

The agreed-upon protocols will keep a pair of rules introduced last year during the pandemic-shortened 60-game season: seven-inning doubleheader games and placing a runner on second base to begin extra innings.

The agreement does not include the universal designated hitter. In 2020, the National League implemented the DH on a full-time basis for the first (and so far only) time in its history. The MLBPA recently rejected MLB’s proposal for a one-month delayed, 154-game season with full pay for 162 games that included the universal DH and an expanded postseason.

MLB will now move forward with a full 162-game season as originally scheduled. Spring Training is set to begin Feb. 17, and Opening Day is scheduled for April 1.

According to Sherman, MLB and the MLBPA will adopt best practices from other sports leagues, including contact-tracing technology used in the NBA, that could allow for better discovery of those that came in close proximity to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.