Watch Now: This Just In: Phillies, Blue Jays Shut Down Facilities Due To COVID-19 (6:02)
May 18: MLB’s safety proposal for a possible 2020 season also includes ‘severe discipline’ for fighting. Players who initiate and participate in brawls are already subject to ejection by the umpire and then perhaps fines and suspensions from the league, but this implies that those penalties will be stepped up in severity. 
WHO confirms the 1,000th U.S. case of COVID-19.

April 20: CBS Sports’ own R.J. Anderson reports that MLB is considering beginning the regular season with three “pools” of teams in three different locations in Arizona, Florida, and Texas. 

The NBA suspends its season indefinitely after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tests positive for the virus. The preliminary positive test result is learned moments before the Jazz tip-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The news and the NBA’s swift response to it will lead to the shuttering of other major sports leagues and events. 
Jan. 7, 2020: Chinese authorities isolate and identify a new type of coronavirus, which will come to be known as COVID-19.

March 25: Commissioner Rob Manfred makes his first public comments since the league shutdown in an interview with ESPN. On what was supposed to be the eve of the 2020 campaign, Manfred says that “nothing is off the table” in regards to the season and he is hopeful teams could return to spring training in May.

April 7: MLB and the MLBPA reportedly discuss a plan to play all games — or at least all games to start the season until stay-at-home orders are lifted — in the Phoenix area, primarily at spring training sites and at Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks. One possible timeline has regular season games starting as early as May. The plan, though, has many logistical hurdles, and MLB eventually says it’s just one of many options being discussed. 

Feb. 28, 2020: WHO elevates the global threat level for COVID-19 from “high” to “very high,” which puts it in the same category as the existing threat level for mainland China.

May 10: MLB reportedly receives results from an antibody testing study it agreed to participate in. Of the more than 5,000 MLB employees who were tested for COVID-19 antibodies, just 0.7 percent tested positive. Of those positive tests, 70 percent showed no symptoms. 

As well, MLB is considering skipping the 2020 draft and international signing period as cost-saving measures, according to the Associated Press. The AP also notes that players and owners are discussing the issue of service time for 2020. Normally, 172 days on an MLB roster are required for a player to earn a full year of service time, which affects things like arbitration eligibility and free agency. If the 2020 season is heavily abbreviated, which seems highly likely, then MLB and the union must hammer out what will constitute the service time cutoff. This has the makings of contentious negotiations. 

May 13: MLB submits protocols for player testing and safety to the union in a 67-page document.

March 24: The Red Sox announce that an unnamed prospect within their system has tested positive for COVID-19. The team’s spring training facilities are shut down and cleaned, and all personnel to come into contact with the player are self-quarantined. The team says it’s likely the player contracted the virus after he left Red Sox camp.

March 4, 2020: WHO confirms the 100th U.S. case of COVID-19.

May 9: MLB reportedly narrows its focus to beginning the season in early July at as many standard home ballparks as possible. The aim would be a regular season of around 80 games followed by an expanded postseason. Schedules would be organized regionally so as to minimize travel and allow players to isolate with their families in their home cities. 

Dr. James Andrews announces he’ll stop performing Tommy John surgeries at his Florida clinic during the shutdown, in keeping with the governor’s orders to cease elective surgeries. 

The AP reports on the specifics of MLB’s payments to players during the shutdown
Feb. 10, 2020: Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to spring training in Arizona and Florida.
March 26: The 2020 MLB Draft, originally scheduled for June during the College World Series, will be pushed back to July and will consist of five to 10 rounds rather than the usual 40, according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel. As well, McDaniel reports that bonuses for drafted players will be deferred and bonuses for non-drafted players will be capped. MLB had previously reached an agreement with the Players Association to cut the 2020 Major League Baseball amateur draft to five rounds.
Feb. 22, 2020: Cactus and Grapefruit League spring training games begin.
April 1: MLB announced the 2020 London Series between the NL Central rival Cardinals and Cubs, originally scheduled for June 13-14, has been canceled due to the pandemic.

Feb. 14, 2020: Position players begin reporting to spring training.

Spring training games were canceled on March 12. USATSI

March 11, 2020: Washington governor Jay Inslee, whose state has been hit the earliest and the hardest by COVID-19, announces a ban on large group gatherings through at least the end of March. Soon after, the Mariners announce that they “are working with the Major League Baseball office of the commissioner on alternative plans for our games that were scheduled for the end of March at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.”

Dec. 31, 2019: The China offices of the World Health Organization (WHO) are informed of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City of unknown origin. 
The ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic has roiled every layer of society and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Major League Baseball has been no exception. What follows is a timeline of how the outbreak has affected MLB, which not so long ago was providing us with the comfortable routines and assumptions of spring training. Now, the only thing certain about the 2020 season is the uncertainty surrounding it. 
March 16, 2020: MLB announces that the start of the 2020 regular season will be pushed back until at least the middle of May. Commissioner Rob Manfred says team owners still hope to play a full regular season schedule, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Also on this day, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that he’s hearing that an early July start date for the regular season is a best-case scenario. Yankees manager Aaron Boone during an appearance on MLB Network Radio says games will be added to the end of the existing regular season calendar

March 15, 2020: The Yankees confirm that a minor leaguer in their system has tested positive for coronavirus. The unnamed player becomes the first MLB-affiliated player to be a confirmed COVID-19 case. The team quarantines all minor leaguers for two weeks.

On March 15, MLB asked for non-roster players to leave spring camp and return home. USATSI

March 31: MLB announces extended financial support for minor league players. Those players will continue receiving weekly payments of 0 each through the end of May or until the start of the minor league season, whichever comes first. 

Jan. 20, 2020: The first U.S. case of COVID-19 is reported in Washington state.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that starting the 2020 season without fans in attendance is becoming an increasing possibility

In an internal memo, MLB advises non-roster players — i.e., those not on a team’s 40-man roster — to return home. MLB also advises teams against holding group workouts. As for players on the 40-man roster, the memo states that “pursuant to our understanding with the Players Association, 40-man roster players must be permitted to remain at the club’s spring training site, and are eligible to receive their usual spring training allowances. (Those players currently on optional assignment should receive allowances in accordance with the past practice of the club.) We understand that many 40-man roster players have chosen to remain in camp to date, but we anticipate that may change in the coming days as events continue to unfold and players become better educated about current conditions.”
March 18, 2020: The Reds announce that an employee based in Arizona has tested positive for COVID-19 and that all team employees who came in contact with that person are self-quarantining and being tested.

Jan. 13, 2020: Thailand reports the first known and lab-tested case of imported COVID-19

Major League Baseball is reportedly considering skipping the draft this year after the coronavirus outbreak. Getty Images

March 27: MLB is still hoping to play a 140-game season with playoffs expanded to 14 teams, Jon Heyman reports. As well, the league hopes to start the season in late May. Although MLB hopes to avoid playing games in empty ballparks and at alternative locations, it’s open to doing that if necessary. 

March 10, 2020: The Mariners are looking into the possibility of playing regular season games at their spring training facilities in Arizona, Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports.
April 10: MLB reportedly considers using spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida for regular season games. Doing so would require teams to be placed in leagues according to spring training locations rather than the traditional American and National League alignments.  June 16: The Texas Rangers become first known MLB team to have front-office employees back to work despite Texas’ COVID-19 spike.

March 19: MLB cancels the Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico series scheduled for April. MLB also announces that players under uniform minor-league contracts will be paid their standard spring meal allowances in a lump sum. The payments will cover scheduled allowances through the original April 8 start date of the minor-league season. Prior to this initiative, a number of individual clubs announced plans to pay minor-league players their per diems. 

The Mets announce that director of player relations and community outreach Donovan Mitchell Sr. has tested negative for the coronavirus. Mitchell is the father of NBA star Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, who had previously tested positive.

April 13: ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the “Arizona plan,” in which all teams would begin the regular season by playing their games in the Phoenix area, is the most likely path toward beginning the 2020 season

MLB is exploring the option of having teams from the most affected locations play games at alternative sites as opposed to playing in empty home ballparks, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal reports
March 3, 2020: WHO confirms the first U.S. death from COVID-19.
May 24: The Yankees and Mets get the green light to hold spring training from their home stadiums from New York governor. 

WHO declares the COVID-19 outbreak to be a global pandemic.
June 4: MLB informs announcers (both TV and radio) that they will not travel this season, and will instead broadcast road games remotely.
June 15: Several Major League Baseball players and team staff members test positive for COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as the common cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to WHO. The COVID-19 virus can cause symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While some patients show mild symptoms and recover, others develop life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia. 

  • Veteran major leaguers will receive $4,775 per day, for a total of $286,500 over the 60-day span in question. 
  • As for those lower on the MLB rung, Blum writes: “Less veteran players receive smaller amounts specified in the agreement: $16,500, $30,000 or $60,000, depending on the contract.”
  • Players not yet eligible for arbitration — i.e., those with less than three years of major-league service time, in most instances — will receive those lower payments. Broadly speaking, minor leaguers with some MLB experience will receive $500 a day, while players who have exhausted rookie status while still not being eligible for arbitration will receive $1,000 per day. 

March 9, 2020: Following a conference call with all 30 teams, MLB announces its intent to continue playing spring training games and to open the regular season on March 26 as planned. The statement notes that MLB has been in regular contact with health officials. MLB does, however, limit clubhouse access to players and essential personnel. Most notably, this means media are no longer allowed in spring training clubhouses. 
The City and County of San Francisco also announce a two-week ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people. The Giants soon after announce that their scheduled March 24 exhibition against the Athletics in Oracle Park in San Francisco has been cancelled.

March 12, 2020: MLB announces that spring training games are cancelled as of 4 p.m. ET and that the start of the regular season has been pushed back two weeks. Opening Day had originally been scheduled for March 26. MLB’s decision comes after the NBA, NHL, and MLS all suspended their seasons, which were already in progress.

MLB reportedly believes that it will be able to gain access to the tens of thousands of testing kits required for this plan without taking tests away from the frontline workers or hospitals.

With regard to the service-time issue, the MLBPA wants players credited with a full year in 2020 if they earned at least 60 days of service in 2019 no matter how many games are played this year, Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic report. MLB in turn is willing to give players credit for a full season if they reach 130 games in 2020 rather than the usual 172 days but would want to prorate if the 2020 season spans fewer than 130 games.

This is how we got to that uncertain and uneasy place in baseball. 

On this same day, the number of worldwide COVID-19 fatalities surpasses 10,000. The number of known cases in the U.S. surpasses 16,000

MLB and MLBPA announce a joint million donation to be split evenly between the Feeding America and Meals on Wheels America organizations.

June 5: The Oakland Athletics reverse their original decision of halting minor league stipends amid the coronavirus shutdown. The club was originally planning to stop sending minor leaguers their 0 weekly stipend after May 31. But, Oakland A’s owner John Fisher told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the club now plans to pay minor leaguers their weekly stipend through the end of the scheduled minor league season.

May 20: The Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays are among the first MLB teams to reopen their facilities for limited individual workouts.

The fiance of Webster Garrison, a former major-league player and current minor-league manager with the Athletics, tells the AP that Garrison is hospitalized and on a ventilator because of COVID-19. She also says Garrison is “turning the corner.” 
May 11: The 2021 World Baseball Classic is canceled. The tournament was set to expand to a record 20 teams and be held in three countries (Japan, Taiwan, United States) from March 9-23 next year. The WBC is a collectively bargained event that requires approval from MLB and the MLBPA, and the WBC reportedly may not return until 2023.
Texas governor Greg Abbott said the state intends to permit sports stadiums (and other businesses) to operate at 50 percent capacity, up from 25 percent capacity.

MLB and the MLBPA also finalize a deal that establishes a potential framework for the 2020 season. Players will receive service pro-rated service time for 2020, and if no season is played then they’ll be credited with the amount of service time they logged in 2019. As for a potential 2020 season, players and owners are willing to stretch the postseason well into November in order to maximize the number of games. 

June 4: MLB could allow fans at Astros, Rangers games in 2020 due to policy from Texas governor. The league is reportedly inclined to follow local guidelines for attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While both sides hope to play games only when mass gatherings are allowed and after medical professionals say it’s safe to conduct games, players and owners reportedly are also willing to play games without fans in attendance and at alternative sites such as spring training facilities. As well, in order to accommodate a more compressed game schedule, rosters may be expanded, and the All-Star Game could be cancelled.

June 10-11: The 2020 MLB Draft takes place remotely via video conference and is televised live. The Detroit Tigers selected Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson with the No. 1 overall pick.

March 17, 2020: The Yankees confirm that a second minor leaguer in their system has tested positive for the virus. The team states the player has been quarantined and is seeing his symptoms lessen in severity. 

The City of Oakland and Alameda County likewise announce a prohibition on public gatherings of 1,000 people or more people through the end of March. The A’s announce they are working with MLB to reschedule the affected games.
Included in the league’s proposed safety protocol: baseball personnel getting tested for coronavirus multiple times a week, with results available within about 24 hours and not requiring the quarantining players or automatically suspending play if a player tests positive. Temperature checks and symptom analysis would take place every day and lockers would follow social distancing guidelines.

The NCAA cancels the all spring and winter championships. Most notably, that means neither the men’s nor women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament will be held in 2020. It also means that the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, has been cancelled even though the event isn’t until early June — almost three months away. For the first time, the MLB Draft had been scheduled to be held in Omaha during the College World Series.

Soon after, the Toronto Blue Jays shut down their Dunedin, Fla. spring training facility after a pitcher on the 40-man roster experiences COVID-19 symptoms and awaits test results. The pitcher had recently spent time with players in the Phillies’ minor leagues system.
June 19: The Philadelphia Phillies close down their Clearwater, Fla. spring training facility after eight positive coronavirus tests. Five Phillies players and three team employees tested positive.

May 21: The Players Association respond to the league’s coronavirus safety proposal for a possible 2020 season. The union’s counter-proposal included notes on testing frequency, protections for high-risk players and their families, and sanitization protocols. Players were also hoping for alterations that would enable them to shower at stadiums and to access hydrotherapy and other preparation and recovery tools that the league’s proposal had prohibited due to the risk of infection.

May 8: MLB and the MLBPA reportedly agree to reduce the 2020 draft from the usual 40 rounds down to five rounds with signing bonuses for non-drafted players limited to ,000. The plan would save MLB no more than million in total.  

March 13, 2020: MLB announces that spring training camps have been suspended. Major league players have the option to return home, remain near camp in Arizona or Florida, or return to their team’s home city. The Yankees vote unanimously to remain in camp
Each of MLB’s 30 teams commits million to aid ballpark workers during the delay.