Good morning everyone, get your answers to this week’s mailbag here. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.
Kevin asks: With player salaries cut in half, all teams payroll will be under the luxury tax threshold. Will this reset the clock for all teams?
That’s not quite how this is going to work, unfortunately. Owners are looking to pay prorated salaries, but the original figures that teams were scheduled to pay out will still be counted for the luxury tax. That means that teams like the Yankees will still be considered in the penalty. Now, will MLB vote to lessen or even outright remove the penalty tax with so many teams tight on budgets right now? That remains to be seen, although I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.
Michael Field asks: Is there a limit to the number of players a team can have, not just in the major league organization but in the minor leagues also? To sign undrafted players for $20,000 seems like a pretty small price to pay, so could teams with deep pockets like the Yankees just go wild in the hopes that one or two of the undrafted players turn out to be something?
There’s several things to go over here. The first part is that, currently, there really isn’t a limit on the amount of minor leaguers you could have, but the league is moving to restrict that starting next season by limiting the amount of teams a club can run. That means that the Yankees aren’t likely to just sign as many players as possible, since they’ll soon be tasked with cutting down the minor league roster.
The second part is that while, yes, $20,000 for a player almost certainly would’ve been drafted in a normal year would be an absolute steal, it isn’t that simple. That amount of money simply isn’t going to be enough to convince most of the high-school players who were scouted, when they can opt for college and rebound in a later draft class once things stabilize. Some college players may not opt for it either, since it’s honestly just not a livable wage.
There are others who will take the gamble though, mainly because they know that a year off from baseball will almost certainly mean the end of the careers before it even begins, so they might as well go for it. The Yankees have already signed a couple of guys as is. They won’t go too crazy with it even if they do get a lot of interest, because as mentioned before they’re looking to save as much as possible right now.
Mark Cerofeci asks: No one can predict the future, but when do you believe MLB will allow fans back to stadiums without any restrictions?
Without any restrictions? Not for a long time, and with good reason. There’s no way that a vaccine or other form of treatment gets rolled out to the public soon enough for there to be no restrictions this year, and next year may even be pushing it.
Now, when will fans in general be back? That’s something that you could at least attempt to figure out. Some states were quick to give sporting events exemptions from the lockouts when the pandemic first set in, but my guess is it would take a clearance in all 30 stadiums before MLB allows it anywhere. It would definitely have to follow social distancing measures, and it would require a severe reversal of the current infection rate throughout the country before it could even be considered.
Honestly, I have my concerns just with running the games themselves right now, so fans returning in 2020 would be a definite no-go for me. It sucks, but it’s necessary. Maybe things will be looking up for next year, but we’re a long way from being able to predict that.