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Report: MLB to Allow Teams to Furlough, Reduce Pay of Club Employees

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred will inform teams on Monday that he will suspend Uniform Employees Contracts, allowing clubs to furlough or reduce the pay of team employees amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

The decision will give teams greater flexibility in handling non-playing personnel. Clubs will not be required to take such measures, which are expected to go into effect May 1, but it would allow teams to get more financial relief during the global health crisis. The provision Manfred is suspending allows MLB to withhold pay in the event of an emergency.

Mangers and coaches at the major- and minor-league levels as well as front-office staffers and scouts are among those who could be most impacted by the suspension, per Rosenthal.

Earlier this week, ESPN reported that MLB alerted its senior staff that they will be undergoing pay cuts during the pandemic. MLB, however, is guaranteeing paychecks to its full-time employees in its central office through May. A number of teams, including the Phillies, Braves and Giants have made similar guarantees.

"As part of our effort to protect the organization, my senior staff and I have decided to reduce our compensation by an average of 35% for 2020 to help the organization weather this terrible storm,'' Manfred wrote in the memo, according to ESPN.

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MLB's regular season was initially scheduled to begin on March 26, but it was forced to suspend its season indefinitely due to COVID-19. As the league looks to begin the season, it is considering a number of proposals to resume play. Among others specifically discussed by MLB, the league is reportedly eyeing a potential plan that would put all 30 teams in the Phoenix area and include playing games in empty ballparks.

However, Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein recently noted, that "according to the experts—medical experts, not the money-making experts in league offices—we will not have sports any time soon."

"We will not have sporting events with fans until we have a vaccine," Zach Binney, a PhD in epidemiology who wrote his dissertation on injuries in the NFL and now teaches at Emory, told Sports Illustrated

MLB players and team employees are participating in a large-scale COVID-19 study run by Stanford University, USC and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory that will test up to 10,000 people for coronavirus antibodies and could potentially offer researchers more information regarding the spread of the disease.

The study, doctors note, is not expected to impact the timeline of the sport's potential return.

As of Sunday afternoon, there are more than 2.3 million cases of the coronavirus, causing at least 159,000 deaths. There are nearly 750,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States.