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MLB Trade Rumors and News: Baseball is back! Also, Juan Soto tests positive for COVID-19

Finally, we have baseball again.

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MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals Jim Rassol-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.

  • While the Nationals were one of the four teams back in action yesterday, Juan Soto was not on the field and with good reason as yesterday, he tested positive for COVID-19. It is worth mentioning that he took a bevy of rapid response tests which came back negative, so there is a small hope that his original test was a false positive, but until he gets back to back negative test results from the licensed lab, Washington is going to be without arguably their best player.
  • The big news on the eve of the 2020 season finally getting underway was that Mookie Betts, who was going to be in line to get a huge free agent deal after this season, decided instead to sign a huge 12 year, $365 million contract extension with the Dodgers. The Dodgers are probably feeling a bit better about the trade from this offseason that brought Mookie to LA in the first place now.
  • The Mets always seem to have some sort of injury shenanigans going on. After already losing Zack Wheeler to free agency and Noah Syndergaard to Tommy John surgery, the Mets’ rotation took another hit as Marcus Stroman was sent to the injury list with a muscle tear in his calf. Even if he can somehow come back in a just a couple weeks, the effect of his absence will be amplified in this shorter season and there is no reason to think that this injury will be resolved in that amount of time, either.
  • One night after Giants players and coaches and Angels reliever Keynan Middleton kicked off a trend by kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, the movement grew on Tuesday. Joey Votto and Amir Garrett were among the Reds players who protested, while Aaron Judge said Yankees players have discussed the possibility of kneeling.
  • In a move that shocked literally no one because it makes total sense, the Blue Jays have been denied permission to play regular-season games in Toronto. Canada has dead bolted their doors and honestly, I don’t blame them. Now the Blue Jays need to figure out where their home turf will be and something in me says their spring training facility in Florida is probably a no-go.
  • Need to scratch a baseball itch you quite can’t reach? Check out our MLB Power Rankings, except this time it’s for the second round of spring training and everything is insane.
  • In order to play baseball, you have to have umpires and this could prove to be a bit more difficult now after last week, when at least 10 umpires had opted out of the 2020 season with more possibly joining them.
  • Astros reliever Joe Smith is one of a growing number of players to opt out of the 2020 season. His decision was expected for a while as he cited health concerns for his family as to why he wasn’t in camp yet, but this is yet another reminder that players are constantly thinking about whether or not playing this season is worth it.
  • There have been two types of players who have been opting out of the 2020 season, those who are at-risk and those who are not. While we completely understand the rationales for both camps, the latest play who decided to opt out is at-risk as Jordan Hicks made the difficult decision last week. Not only is he recovering from injury, but he is also a diabetic. We hope for nothing but the best for all of these guys.
  • More and more players are starting to pop up as positive with coronavirus as tests are being processed which, in itself, has been an ordeal. To help you keep track of all of the public information on COVID-19 in MLB, you should check out the tracker we put together.
  • Rob Manfred and MLB’s owners had done a truly bad job of hiding the fact that they were negotiating in bad faith with the players, but at least they weren’t saying it out loud...until now. Few were confused by the fact that while the owners gave out proposals with differing percentages and numbers of games, the owners never appreciably offered to pay for more than about 60 games’ worth of fully prorated salary which is EXACTLY what we ended up with. Unfortunately, Manfred said the quiet part out loud when he said that MLB was never going to play more than 60 games regardless of how the negotiations were going. Not only does that comment diminish the league’s/owners’ chances in the inevitable grievance that players bring, but it also gives the appearance to fans that Manfred and co. dragged the entire sport through the mud over the last few months for nothing.
  • In news that was expected but still highly unfortunate, Minor League Baseball announced that its 2020 season is cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Needless to say, this news is absolutely awful for countless minor-league players, coaches, team employees, and broadcasters who are trying to move up the ladder in baseball and will have to put their dreams on hold for another year.
  • More scandal? Sure, I’ll take a sprinkling. A New York District judge has ordered Major League Baseball and the Yankees to unseal a letter from 2017 sent from Rob Manfred to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. First reported by Evan Drellich of The Athletic, The letter allegedly details the extend of rule violations that occurred in the 2015-16 season. If this isn’t brand new information, it’s like the other charge from 2017 that found the Yankees in violation of using a cellphone in the dugout during games. However, if it’s another full scale sign cheating scandal, the Yankees are heading back to court. They are expected to appeal the ruling.
  • In tragic, unsettling news, MLB teams have released hundreds of minor league players, with more players likely to be released in the coming weeks. As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds across the country, billionaires are making the choices to cut menial, insignificant costs in the form of the people who make them money. If you’re looking to help during this difficult times, tweet us at @mlbdailydish while we work with Adopt A Minor Leaguer to help find sponsors for MiLB players struggling.
  • 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.