Season Notes: Pandemic, Rules, Rays, Attendance (

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Teams have their hands full today with the opening of the international signing period, as well as the now-passed deadline for arbitration agreements. While we sift through those financials, here’s the latest on how the pandemic continues to affect the sport…

  • MLB hopes to bring back seven-inning doubleheaders and the runner-on-second-base extra-inning rule, writes USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The league is advocating for a continuation of these rules specifically for fear of the coronavirus continuing to affect the schedule. The league also seems to be in favor of keeping the universal DH and expanded playoffs, though those issues are still being discussed. No rule changes are made official, of course, until the league comes to an agreement with the MLBPA. The debate around expanded playoffs seems particularly challenging right now, as a greater playoff field, in some minds, actually de-incentivizes teams from spending in free agency since they have a greater margin for error. Reduced spending on free agents is a hot button issue right now, and it’s going to be the lens through which the players view many of the topics under discussion for 2021. Nightengale notes that there’s at least a chance that MLB ends up with the same rules in 2021 as in 2020, with the exception of roster sizes dropping back down from 29 to 26.
  • The Rays are planning to allow roughly 7,000 fans per game in 2021, socially distanced and wearing masks, of course, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Of course, much can change between now and April, but the hope is that greater vaccine rollouts can mitigate the number of breakouts around the country. The Rays plan to re-open part of their upper deck seating to help keep fans appropriately distanced. The Rays are prepping best they can to allow fans in for games, but it will still come down to getting approval from MLB and government authorities. The Rays hope to have more information about ticketing ready before the end of February.

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