As Opening Day for Minor League Baseball approaches, new rules and guidelines for how the league will operate in the ongoing pandemic have begun to be released.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, players within the minor leagues will not be required to be vaccinated during the upcoming season. If players are vaccinated, which 88% of minor league players were during the 2021 season, they will still go through looser testing and safety protocols than their unvaccinated teammates.
The protocols for unvaccinated players will include "increased regulation and prohibitions, including the requirement to conduct intake and regular surveillance testing, mask wearing, and restrictions on their access to Restricted Areas," per Passan.
Although players aren't required to be vaccinated, all clubhouse and on-field staff will be required to be "up to date" with their vaccinations if they wish to conduct in-person communications with the players.
This is similar to what MLB put into place in Sept. 2021 when they mandated that all "non-playing personnel" be required to be vaccinated going into the postseason. That required all managers, trainers, and other coaches to be vaccinated to get access to the field and all restricted areas, per an article by Wilton Jackson for Sports Illustrated.
The decision behind not requiring minor league players came after word started to trickle out in Oct. 2021, about MLB mandating the vaccine at the minor league level.
At the time, some players were unsure about MLB going through with a mandate without meeting with the players, which the league could do due to how the relationship between the League and the minor league players is, which is one without a bargaining agreement like the one at the Major League level.
As it stands, it seems the players have gotten their wish with the vaccine not being required. There is still no word what the league will do at the Major League level for the upcoming season.