MLB-MLBPA deal on COVID-19 fallout carries major impact for Blue Jays

blue-jays-vladimir-guerrero-jr-and-bo-bichette

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. (Fred Thornhill/CP)

TORONTO – Major League Baseball and the players association reached an agreement on financial framework through the COVID-19 pandemic, a structure that includes draft alterations and service-time provisions that will significantly impact the Toronto Blue Jays.

The deal, first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan and confirmed by an industry source to Sportsnet, is the product of a couple weeks of negotiations and will be voted on by owners Friday. Its terms include $170 million in salary advances to players, covering two months of pay — money that’s guaranteed whether there’s a season in 2020 or not.

Particularly pertinent for the Blue Jays are plans to hold a five-round draft later this summer, although that can be lengthened at the discretion of Major League Baseball, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

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Given that the Blue Jays hold the fifth overall pick, fewer rounds means less opportunity to leverage the reward for last year’s 67-95 bottoming out. That will impact their ability to fully flex the spending power selecting so high up creates, although the team views the still-to-be-determined signing bonus pool allocation as more important than the number of rounds.

The Blue Jays will have to alter their strategy accordingly, no longer able to find teen-round-and-beyond value in prep players whose stock has slipped over signability concerns but can ultimately be bought out of college.

Similarly impactful are the provisions for service time, with players earning a full year regardless of how many games are played in a shortened season, and players collecting a match of their 2019 total if the entire year is lost.

That means that pending free agent Ken Giles and other walk-year players will be eligible to hit the open market whether or not there’s a season, while the clock will advance on cornerstone young players like Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, but not Nate Pearson, who is on the cusp of his big-league debut.

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