Recent COVID-19 testing results have reportedly played a factor in MLB's ongoing negotiations to hold a 2020 season.
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, 40 MLB players and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week. The recent surge of positive tests has reportedly created a "sense of urgency" among league owners and players in negotiations to come to an agreement.
The MLB Players Association reportedly delayed its vote on the league's proposal for a 60-game season with full prorated salaries on Sunday after union executive director Tony Clark received a letter from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. In the letter, Manfred proposed that the league's offer would amend previous agreements and remove expanded playoffs and the universal designated hitter rule from the 2021 season, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Under the latest proposals between MLB and the players' union, both parties agreed that a shortened 2020 season would start on July 19. That target date is now unlikely to be met with the latest coronavirus tests, per Nightengale.
With the rise in positive COVID-19 results among MLB, players are reportedly concerned that the coronavirus could shorten the season to fewer than the proposed 60 games and further reduce pay. The players' union had previously countered the league's offer with a 70-game proposal, but MLB is unwilling to go beyond its current offer.
MLB has reportedly closed all Spring Training facilities in Arizona and Florida for sanitation after individuals from multiple teams tested positive for COVID-19. The Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels have all had players or visitors that either tested positive or showed symptoms of coronavirus in recent days at their respective training facilities, according to multiple reports.
If the MLBPA board denies the league's 60-game proposal, Manfred will reportedly set the season between 54 and 60 games, as outlined in the March 26 agreement between the league and union. There is "little to no appetite" for MLB to cancel the 2020 season, with COVID-19 being the "bigger threat" to the year, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.