MLB, MLBPA agree on 2021 protocols, including seven-inning doubleheaders and runner on second in extras

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Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have agreed on safety and protocol rules for the 2021 season, per multiple reports Monday night (Hannah Keyser of Yahoo was first). They have agreed on terms for both spring training and for the regular season. 

In many ways, the 2021 season will look a lot like 2020, except that the plan is for a full 162 games. 

The key rules adjustments that will be noticed as a difference from pre-2020 will be: 

  • Doubleheaders will be two seven-inning games. 
  • Each offense will get a runner on second to start every extra inning. 

Remember, the goal here is to limit overly extended stays at the ballpark while also protecting players from additional wear and tear. 

There will not, however, be a universal designated hitter. That means all AL games have the DH, all NL games don’t and interleague games have the DH in AL parks but not NL parks. 

As has been thoroughly reported in recent weeks, the MLB/owner side offered up the universal designated hitter, but as part of the negotiation, expanded playoffs were included. The MLBPA rejected this, meaning the playoff field goes back to five teams per league — three division winners and two wild cards, which play one game with the winner moving on. 

It is possible things could change here before the regular season starts with the two sides agreeing to a DH and expanded playoff field, but for now, an agreement has been made with spring training right around the corner. 

Keep in mind, the collective-bargaining agreement is up after the season, so all negotiations of things like the DH and expanded playoffs were done with the backdrop of a new agreement needing to happen in several months. Neither side wants to look like it is giving concessions to the other. 

Also of note, MLB is looking at tracing technology used by the NBA to better catch contacts of COVID-19 after positive tests, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post

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