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Owners, players agree service time, draft rules

Overall, everything’s still amorphous, but a few details have been hammered out. Hurrah!

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark answers questions about Astros sign stealing scandal
Moving forward: Both owners and players have agreed to a basic structure for 2020.
Photo by Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday via Getty Images

A series of tweets from Jeff Passan of ESPN and Ken Rosenthal of the athletic breaks some significant news about how the 2020 MLB season will play out.

First, owners have agreed to advance $170 million to players over April and May, while baseball is idle. If the season is cancelled, players will keep the advance. If and when play resumes, player salaries will be pro-rated based on how many games are on the schedule (e.g. an 81-game season would see players earning one-half of their 2020 salaries).

The advance money will be broken down among four groups of players: Those with guaranteed contracts are in the top tier, followed by players in three different levels of contracts split between majors and minors.

The other aspect of the agreement today involves the draft, rumored to be shortened but not postponed for 2020. MLB has the right to (meaning it will, likely) reduce the 2020 amateur draft to five rounds. The draft may move from June 10 to as late as the end of July — but no later.

MLB also has the right to shorten the 2021 draft to 20 rounds, as well as push back the 2021 international signing period to 2022.

Service time and free agency have also been hashed out. Players who are active or on injured list for a full season in 2020 (even a shortened one) will receive a full year of service time. If the 2020 season is cancelled completely, players will receive the same service time they earned in 2019.

This means that in the case of no season being played, free agency will still kick in for those in the final years of their contracts, meaning stars like Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto, Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer will be free agents come November, period. (Oh, unless somehow baseball is still being played in November.)

The two sides have yet to agree on what form a resumed spring training might take, or roster size for the 2020 season.