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MLB Trade Rumors and News: MLB projects $4B loss due to fanless games

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All those empty stadium seats will cause a huge dent to baseball’s profits.

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MLB: Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB Daily Dish is a daily feature we’re running here at MLBDD that rounds up roster-impacting news, rumors, and analysis. Have feedback or have something that should be the shared? Hit us up at @mlbdailydish on Twitter or @MLBDailyDish on Instagram.

  • Major League Baseball is projecting a loss of $4 billion in free cash flow due to game played in front of empty seats during the proposed 82-game season, The Associated Press is reporting. The 12-page document from the commissioner’s office laid out the exact numbers of what the league will lose out of, averaging that it will cost $640k a game in losses. Each team would face at least $84M in loses, a figure dependent on the franchise’s projected earning pre-interest, taxes, etc. In contrast, the MLBPA is claiming that these losses aren’t are stark as owners are claiming. Now, they’re seeking further documentation of where these facts and figures came from. More on this story from both sides as it develops.
  • While being a part of a global history event that no one asked for has changed our daily lives in various ways, Matt Harvey has turned this tremendous negative into a position. The Dark Knight has been throwing bullpen sessions one or two times a week in the hopes of nailing a contract once the season starts up, reports Dan Martin of the New York Post. This comes after the 31-year old failed to secure the bag with the Blue Jays this offseason, a feat that seems kind of hard to do. After playing for the Angels last season on a one year, $11M contract, Harvey lacked the spark he’d shown with the Reds the season before and pitched a hard to watch 7.09 ERA and 6.35 FIP. But everyone loves a comeback story and nothing says, “perfect set up for a movie starring Matt Damon”, then the former Mets ace revitalizing his career after a fall from grace and months spent in isolating, meditating and looking back at his life. I want a royalty fee, btw. Let’s not forget, Harvey isn’t just battling back from bad outings, he’s also underwent Tommy John and thoracic outlet surgery.
  • Right now, we’re given the sweet taste of baseball from an ocean away, thanks to the KBO. We want to hear from you! Are you waking up in the wee hours of the morning to watch the games? Have you already found your team or still shopping around? Answer in the comments below or tweet us at @mlbdailydish to tell us how you’re taking in this new way of watching the game.
  • Well, at least we know that owners and players are going to be talking about starting the season even if it is clear that they are currently nowhere near to being on the same page right now. Yesterday, MLB owners got together and tentatively agreed to a proposal to start baseball back up in July with player salaries being tied to revenue among other specifics. The players union wasn’t having any of that so we are far from any sort of announcements.
  • Ron Wright had the worst MLB debut of all time.
  • This hot take is so scorching but so correct it’s like eating your food right out of the over because it looks so delicious and you can’t help it: The 2020 season should kick off with the All-Star Game (if it’s safe to do so).
  • The latest sports event casualty from the COVID-19 outbreak is the World Baseball Classic as it was announced yesterday that the international event has been pushed back until at least 2023. This is a real shame as not only is the WBC a great showcase of baseball on a global stage, but this also means we will have to wait for some of the more raucous crowds and epic bat flips you will ever see.
  • Some kid snuck into a ballpark, and recorded a fairly pleasant message on a camera.
  • Ultimately, everything is going to depend on what path the COVID-19 pandemic takes, but right now it looks likelier than it has in a long time that MLB will indeed have some sort of 2020 season. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the league is expected to make a proposal to the players’ union on conditions for a modified season. It remains to be seen how heated negotiations over financial terms will get, as the owners don’t seem too keen on paying players the pro-rated salaries they promised them as part of a March agreement between the league and the MLBPA.
  • As part of that proposal, it’s expected that the league will try to institute a universal DH for the 2020 season. While this will undoubtedly crush the spirits of a passionate, vocal chunk of baseball fans, it seems to be the best option with interleague play likely to account for nearly half the schedule as the league tries to limit travel.
  • It turns out that the infamous Friday afternoon news dump doesn’t work quite as well when most of the country is stuck at home. MLB’s decision to shorten the 2020 draft has already been widely panned and could have major negative ramifications for both the short and long term.
  • MLB and its umpires have agreed on working terms for the 2020 season, after what sounds like one of the most unbearable Zoom calls ever. So while the umpires have agreed not to file a grievance against Major League Baseball for the hold up in cash flow, it’s their money and they need it now. (Maybe they should give 877-CASH-NOW a shot?)
  • Indians reliever Emmanuel Clase has been suspended for 80 games due to a violation against MLB’s PED policy. Cleveland acquired him in the marquee trade in December (we were so young then) that sent Corey Kluber to the Rangers. Unlike those of AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow, this suspension won’t begin until the season does. I guess cheating is bad unless you do it using an intricate system of sign stealing and electronics, then a pandemic is allowed to completely wipe away your blame. Who knew.
  • One subject that had kind of gotten overshadowed given the state of the world was whether or not the Hall of Fame inductions of Derek Jeter and Larry Walker (plus Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller) were going to happen as scheduled or in a different form. Well, the Hall made their decision and their inductions will be postponed until 2021 with this year’s elected members being enshrined alongside next year’s class. Just a dagger in the side of those New York voters who tried to make Jeter be in a HOF class by himself.
  • Many a moon ago (so, like, a few months ago) a rumor swirled around that the San Francisco Giants had heightened interest in former Dodgers outfielder and current national treasure Yasiel Puig. Well, in our wildest baseball dreams it appears that may be coming to fruition now. Cuban baseball writer Francys Romero reported that a deal with the Giants is almost done, though manager Gabe Kapler and president Farhan Zaidi have thrown cold water on the rumor.
  • We have been waiting a long time to see the results of MLB’s investigation into the Red Sox mainly because that investigation (regardless of the results) has been the only holdup in seeing what punishment Alex Cora was going to receive for his misdeeds with the Astros. Well, we got our answer last week, as Cora received just a one year ban and Boston additionally lost a 2nd round pick and had a replay operator get a one year timeout as a well. To say that that punishment is underwhelming is a pretty big understatement.
  • MLB and Minor League Baseball are reportedly close to an agreement that would cause 42 minor-league teams to lose their big-league affiliations. While there are perhaps a few positives to be taken from this deal — every club will have the same number of minor-league affiliates, travel will be more efficient, and minor-leaguers will get paid more — it’s extremely rough news for employees and fans in the affected markets and the players whose dreams will be crushed as more than 1,000 jobs are eliminated.
  • While it is probably safe to say that all of the MLB players and executives are going to be just fine financially despite the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the sport, the same couldn’t be said about the hourly and seasonal employees who were relying on games to be played to provide for themselves and their families. That is why it has been heartening to see stories that more and more teams are committing to pay these employees through at least the first few months of the season if not longer despite the fact that no games are being played.
  • After undergoing Tommy John surgery last September, Adam Warren’s baseball suitors weren’t exactly beating down his door for a contract. However, he was able to snag a deal with a team he’s already very familiar with: the Yankees. The reliever has worked out a two-year minor league contract with the club, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. He would already be spending 2020 recovering from surgery, so the added time given the current situation only strengthens his case for a good comeback in 2021.
  • The recent agreement that MLB and the MLBPA reached regarding how the 2020 season would be handled in the wake of the pandemic that is sweeping across the globe gave some hope that the two sides could get past their numerous differences to make not only the 2020 season work, but also potentially avoid a work stoppage once the CBA expires. However, those hopes hit a pretty significant snag, as it is pretty clear from Ken Rosenthal’s reporting that the two sides have very different takes on whether or not the money that had been guaranteed to players in that agreement was still guaranteed if there were no fans in the stadiums when games resumed.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci outlines how sports could return this summer and someone give this man a raise immediately.
  • MLB has committed to paying league employees through at least the end of May, with Rob Manfred and other senior staff members taking major pay cuts for 2020.
  • Pirates reliever Nick Burdi could be poised for a comeback if this season ever kicks off, Mike Perzak of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Burdi suffered a devastating injury mid-game last April when, immediately after delivering a pitch, he collapsed to the mound in pain. An MRI determined the pitcher had strains in his bicep tendon and flexor and eventually needed surgery for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome. As Perzak reports, the 27-year old’s fastball has come back with a vengeance, and he could be a solid anchor for Pittsburgh’s bullpen if the season begins any time soon. While his health is a delicate thing, it’s unclear yet if this rehabbed success could linger into 2021 if we don’t see baseball this year.
  • Josh Hamilton’s fall from grace and subsequent redemption have been covered heavily over the years. His drug abuse and nearly leaving baseball altogether only to return and claim the AL MVP award and be one of the league’s more feared hitters was a lovely success story. However, since then, Hamilton has fallen on some other setbacks in his life, and now he finds himself facing some serious charges involving assaulting his eldest daughter.
  • Need some additional drama to add to this pandemic situation? According to a report from Zach Buchanan of The Athletic, three minority owners of the Diamondbacks have joined forces to sue Ken Kendrick, the team’s managing general partner. The suit stems from a letter Kendrick sent owners that instructed anyone with less than one percent of the team either increase their shares of the franchise or sell them back to the team at a price that will be determined by an appraiser. While Kendrick feels this ultimatum was fair and square, this trio of owners are saying this act of backing them into the corner was illegal. Cue soap opera music.
  • There is a lot of potential weirdness surrounding the current COVID-19 situation and what the loss of regular season games or even the whole season could mean for various players and team employees. However, one such area of weirdness has already been ironed out as it has been reported that even if the 2020 season doesn’t happen, the punishments handed down to the Astros’ Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch will be considered served. This was likely to be a necessary move given how the league is planning on handling MLB service time, even though it doesn’t necessarily feel great.