Major League Baseball’s winter meetings are one of the biggest events of the offseason, with all 30 teams coming together and clubs making blockbuster trades and marquee signings. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that might be in jeopardy later this year.
The 2019 winter meetings proved to be quite eventful with the likes of Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg signing massive contracts. It was meant to be the perfect spark leading up to spring training, but that excitement was quickly wiped out by the coronavirus.
With the 2020 MLB season already altered by the pandemic, MLB is now looking at sweeping changes to its biggest event of the offseason.
At a time when MLB is emphasizing social distancing and strict COVID-19 protocols, the winter meetings would be everything they want to avoid. Thousands of people, from agents and players to general managers and executives, huddle together for a week with rumors and deals flying just as freely.
According to SNY’s Andy Martino, MLB executives are now polling teams about canceling the in-person winter meetings and making the event virtual this year.
The 2020 winter meetings are currently set to take place in Dallas from Dec. 6-10, but many around the league aren’t entirely comfortable with the situation. Instead, executives would prefer to conduct their business virtually, negotiating with agents and other teams from the comfort of their homes.
The upcoming MLB offseason already lost some of its luster when Mookie Betts signed a record-breaking extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers. With the MVP outfielder signed, Philadelphia Phillies All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and Houston Astros star George Springer will be the top MLB free agents available this winter.
If teams conduct negotiations virtually, it seems likely that fewer trades and free-agent signings will go down during the winter meetings. It could be especially true coming off a year when MLB’s revenue will go down due to lost stadium revenue.
It’s likely just a matter of time before MLB makes it official. Once that happens, the winter meetings will become the latest thing baseball fans lose this year because of the coronavirus.