Less than one week into the 2020 Major League Baseball regular season, the league has been forced to postpone two games scheduled for Monday night because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Miami Marlins that has reportedly entailed more than a dozen positive tests. The Marlins will no longer host the Baltimore Orioles as planned, and will quarantine in place in Philadelphia until they receive more test results. The Marlins’ weekend opponents, the Phillies, will not play the New York Yankees on Monday night, either.
The Marlins reportedly had nine players test positive, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. That includes catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielders Garrett Cooper and Harold Ramirez, and pitcher Jose Urena, who was scratched hours prior to his Sunday start due to a positive test. If the season continues and no other Marlins test positive, then the team will still have to replace essentially a third of its 30-player roster before playing another game.
Because there is no stated provision in the agreement between the league and the union on what would lead to the season being canceled or paused, that discretion belongs to commissioner Rob Manfred. What would it take before Manfred would consider pausing or scrapping the rest of the year? He was asked that question earlier this month as part of an appearance on Dan Patrick’s radio show.
Here’s what Manfred said:
“I don’t have a firm number of days in mind (to pause the season). I think the way that I think about it, Dan, is in the vein of competitive integrity, in a 60-game season,” Manfred said. “If we have a team or two that’s really decimated with a number of people who had the virus and can’t play for any significant period of time, it could have a real impact on the competition and we’d have to think very, very hard about what we’re doing.”
Whether or not Manfred considers the Marlins outbreak to be enough to have a “real impact on the competition” is anyone’s guess. He’s scheduled to talk with the 30 team owners at 12:30 p.m. ET, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, so some clarity could come this afternoon.
It’s worth noting that Manfred acknowledged the league would be “lucky” to get in 60 games prior to the start of the season. That didn’t stop the owners and players from agreeing to an expanded postseason last week, however.