Per the new agreement between Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Players Association (MLBPA), the 2020 season won’t start until teams can safely travel and taking part in games doesn’t represent a health risk for teams and fans around America. Given that the United States now leads the coronavirus cases’ table, we can safely conclude that there won’t be baseball for a while.
We know that, according to the CDC guidelines to which MLB complied with in March 16, there shouldn’t be public gatherings of more than 50 people for eight weeks. That means, including at least a couple of weeks of tune ups, that the regular season won’t start at least until June, and by now, we have reasons to believe that there could be no season at all.
Altering everybody’s plans
For players that have established a routine year in and year out, that is problematic, especially when several ideas of playing in November and December are being discussed. For owners, it also poses a challenge, as negotiations with the MLBPA regarding service time proved.
Saying that fans are affected by the delayed start of the season would be an understatement. Food and souvenir vendors, media, staffers, scouts... all of us are suffering with no baseball right now. So, will there be any beneficiaries?
In the specific case of the New York Yankees, we can say that there is a silver lining to all of this: if the season starts, say, in June or July, there is a strong chance that they will have their stellar lineup together and healthy from the beginning.
Of the five injured players that figured to miss some regular season time before the COVID-19 outbreak struck, four of them can return in time in case there is baseball in June and July. Only Luis Severino is out for the whole year following Tommy John surgery.
Here is a medical update and a possible timetable:
Aaron Judge, OF: The Yankees’ starting right fielder is still in the healing phase of his cracked rib, per manager Aaron Boone. Last week, he had a CT scan that revealed “slight improvement,” but there is no clue about when he will be ready to play in games.
If he keeps improving, he may beat time and be ready in the next few weeks, hopefully before the action starts. He has a good chance.
Aaron Hicks, OF: Hicks underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on October 30. At the moment of the procedure, he was expected to miss the entire first half of the 2020 season, but that may not be the case now.
Manager Aaron Boone said on Wednesday that Hicks already begun his throwing program. He should be ready to play in games by June or July, right around the hypothetical start of the season.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF: Boone said on March 23 that Stanton, dealing with a grade 1 strained calf, would “probably be ready to go” if games were to start up this week.
At this point, he seems like a slam dunk to be ready for when the season starts, assuming that will happen at some point in June or July. The slugger is already running and recently took batting practice.
James Paxton, SP: The Big Maple, who had surgery to remove a cyst from his spine in early February, started playing catch on March 11.
He has several hurdles to clear including bullpens and pitching in live games, but if the season starts in June, the lefty could be ready in time.
In the pitching side of things, the Yankees will only miss Severino from their projected opening day rotation. When it comes to batters, it looks like the Bombers will be complete and will enjoy enviable depth.