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Yankees mailbag: Domingo German’s suspension, Mookie Betts, free agency

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The answers to this week’s mailbag are in

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees - Game One Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Hello, friends, I hope you’re doing well—as well as you could be under these circumstances. We have three questions in today’s mailbag, all related to COVID-19 and the suspended season. As always, you can send in submissions to our weekly mailbag call or by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com. Enjoy!

Many have asked: How does the shutdown affect Domingo German’s suspension?

German’s suspension remains in tact. He still has to serve 63 games, regardless of when the season starts. “He has a suspension in the amount of games,” Brian Cashman told Ken Davidoff. “It doesn’t start until the schedule starts. The suspension is in games, so the bottom line is, until those games come off the board, that’s how long his suspension is going to last.”

If the Yankees play an 80-game season, that means German can participate in the final 17. The length of the season will determine the number of games the right-hander gets to play.

German, 27, received an 81-game suspension in January for violating the Joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence policy back in September 2019. The league ruled that the 18 games he served on administrative leave last season counts towards his suspension.

y4nkees asks: Are the players—especially minor leaguers—going to get paid for the time off? How will service time work? A lot of players have walk years this year, so what will happen with that?

Yes, both big leaguers and minor leaguers will get paid during this period. That’s important, because players technically only receive their salaries during the season; they earn a per diem during spring training. In short, the league advanced teams money—$170 million distributed among all club, says Jon Heyman—to pay players on the 40-man roster. As for minor leaguers, they will receive $400 a week until April 8th. Multiple executives told Jeff Passan they believe minor leaguers “will be paid at rates similar to their expected salaries for the immediate future.” The sad part here is that represents a notable raise for them.

Where service time is concerned, the league and the MLBPA are reportedly have a deal with a few contingencies. If the season is canceled outright, then players will earn the same amount of service time they received in 2019. That means the 2020-2021 free agent class will still hit the open market, including James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and DJ LeMahieu. If a shortened season occurs, then service time will accrue on a prorated basis.

Wombat21 asks: Is anything going to happen with the Mookie Betts trade? Basically the Dodgers paid for Betts but might not be able to play him this season. Will they just have to let him go, renegotiate a one-year deal, receive compensation, what happens?

As mentioned earlier, if the 2020 season doesn’t happen, then Betts will indeed become a free agent at year’s end. I suspect that the Dodgers would make a strong effort to retain him, because he’s a top-free agent and they obviously like him. That said, the trade will be a sunk cost at that point, so it wouldn’t be rational for them to try to justify the trade by paying in free agency. Despite his position to the contrary, Andrew Friedman stands out among the most rational executives in baseball. I’ll believe the Dodgers will sign a major free agent when I see it.