Tampa Bay Rays News: Major League Baseball players will report for a second round of “spring” training on July 1 and the season will begin on July 23 or 24.
The Tampa Bay Rays will get a crack at continuing the momentum of their 96-win season from a year ago. The commissioner imposed a 60-game season pending the players voting on approving the safety protocols and the report date of July 1.
The players approved the plan and the two sides finalized the health and safety protocols on Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay Rays – Unique Features of 2020 Season
- Geographical Divisions/Scheduling – Each team will play 40 intradivisional games and 20 interleague matchups against the other league’s matching geographical division. In other words, the Rays will play each team in the AL East 10 times each and then play members of the NL East 20 total times. That’s a stacked division that will not only include the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees, but will also include the defending NL East Champion Atlanta Braves, Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies, Pete Alonso and the New York Mets, and the defending World Champion Washington Nationals.
- 30-Man Rosters – There won’t be many days off in this frantic season. They will attempt to squeeze 60 games into about 70 days. As a result, each team will have 30 active players on the roster and the 40-man roster expand to 60 players. The rosters are due to the league office by Sunday at 3 p.m. After the first two weeks, the 30-man roster will be reduced to 28 and then to the standard 26 players after four weeks.
- Universal DH (Just 2020) – This means that when the Rays face off against the Braves in Cobb County, the DH will be in full effect. There will be no wasted lineup spots with Blake Snell creating a hole at the end of the lineup. On the flip side, the National League teams will have some extra juice on offense than they are accustomed to.
- Baserunners start in scoring position in extra-innings – In an attempt to prevent games from turning into seven or eight-hour marathons in such a cramped schedule, the league will begin every half-inning of extra innings with a runner in scoring position. According Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, since the rule was implemented in the minor leagues two years ago the results are real. Prior to the implementation of the rule, only 45 percent of extra-inning games were concluded in one inning. Over the past two years with the rule, that number sky-rocketed up to 70 percent.
- Transactions Begin Friday at Noon – Teams can begin executing transactions on Friday at lunchtime. Let’s make some trades!
- Trade Deadline – The trade deadline will be moved to August 31, according to Jayson Stark.
- Mysterious Unsigned Teams in Nashville – Major League Baseball has spoken with Nashville about hosting two teams of players that are unsigned. These players will be paid to stay in playing shape to serve as potential replacements in the event of injuries to the Major League clubs.
The players turned down more money in the final proposal and forced the commissioner’s hand in order for them to retain the right to file a grievance. This could be setting the tone for nasty CBA negotiations in 2021.
We will worry about crossing that burning bridge when we get there. For now, we need to worry about watching and enjoying baseball…as long as COVID-19 doesn’t run rampant through the league. The threat of the virus is an ominous cloud over this otherwise good news.
As fans take off their labor-attorney hats and attempt to just be fans again, 40 players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in just the past week.