The Rundown: MiLB Season Likely Cancelled Today, Indy Ball Could Offer Outlet, Two Cubs Staffers Test Positive, Schwarber Not Sole DH

As Mike Canter convalesces for what we hope will be a brief period, I figured I’d take another run at The Rundown. If this was just a matter of trying to corral some of the main stories from around MLB, the task would be very simple. The problem with trying to fill in on this beat, however, is that Canter has a true passion for it. One might even call it a compulsion or obsession, though I suppose escape is even more accurate.

I’ll let him update you more thoroughly on his condition when he’s back at it, which he thinks could be tomorrow, but for now I’ll just say he’s doing okay. He wanted me to pass on his greeting to all of you and I’ll speak for him in saying that your prayers and well wishes have been invaluable over the last few months.

In other matters of escape or indulging passion, minor league players who were not included on their teams’ 60-man rosters for this season may have an outlet via independent leagues. According to JJ Cooper of Baseball America, those players can’t be prevented from signing with indy ball squads ($) for the summer. Even those organizations that have opted to continue paying stipends through the rest of the season are doing so separately from those players’ contracts.

Clubs had to suspend uniform player contracts in order to offer the stipends in place of typical salaries. That means MLB organizations can’t supply their affiliates with players, nor can they stop those players from pursuing other employment in the meantime. Of course, the relatively minuscule pay on the unaffiliated circuit means it might not be all that worthwhile for too many prospects to ply their trade there.

Then again, it’s going to be more about just participating in active competition for some of these guys, many of whom might be able to catch out with an outfit near their offseason home or big league club. The Chicago Dogs, for instance, are playing all 30 home games at Impact Field in Rosemont and will be operating at up to the 20% fan capacity allowed by the state.

That’s a full 20% more than minor league affiliates, all of which may know the fate of their season on Tuesday when Minor League Baseball’s board of trustees is scheduled to meet ($). Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that a public announcement could follow shortly thereafter, though a total cancellation has been fait accompli.

While Drellich offered scant hope for a potential change in plans, even if it’s just a matter of delaying the need to refund tickets, that’s all just a pipe dream. Many minor league affiliates have gotten creative by hosting movie nights and curbside concessions, but the burden of a lost season may be too much to bear. That could mean either shuttering or selling, both of which play right into MLB owners’ hands.

Not only will the financial strain hasten the elimination of 42 different affiliates, but it should open up the possibility for big league owners to take on greater financial interest in their feeder teams. That shouldn’t have much impact on the minors in and of itself, though it does provide MLB with that much more control and a bigger split of the revenue pie.

As for those prospects who are neither on a 60-man roster nor interested in indy ball, the eventual reopening of spring facilities for more formal workouts may offer a chance to get it some work later in the summer. There has been talk of a facility-based developmental league or even an expanded Arizona Fall League, both of which could still be on the table.

Cubs news and notes

  • The Cubs announced that two Tier 1 employees — essential on-field personnel — had tested positive for COVID-19 on their own. The team started conducting intake testing in advance of camp opening, so Jed Hoyer acknowledged the possibility for even more positives.
  • David Ross, who missed the first couple of spring games due to flu-like symptoms, said he was negative for COVID antibodies.
  • Ross said the DH role will be filled by committee, though Sahadev Sharma writes that Kyle Schwarber is the club’s best option there and should be the main man.
  • The Cubs are not considering a six-man rotation at this point and Ross feels that his main starters are already in good shape, relatively speaking.
  • Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo remain the 1-2 hitters and Ross prefers to stick with a more static lineup overall.
  • Hoyer acknowledged that more prospects could be added to the 60-man roster, but the Cubs wanted to maintain flexibility prior to filling it from within. Once a player is removed from the roster, they can’t be added, hence the absence of Burl Carraway, Zack Short, Tyson Miller, and Trent Giambrone.

MLB news and notes

  • Diamondbacks righty Mike Leake became the first known player to opt out of the 2020 season.
  • Joe Ross and Ryan Zimmerman likewise opted out, but the former is not retiring.
  • Ian Desmond also opted out, announcing his decision via a lengthy Instagram post that is well worth your time. This is about so much more than just baseball, though Desmond’s desire to change the sport is at the heart of his message.

Tuesday Walk Up Song

JU$T by Run the Jewels — RtJ member Killer Mike is a vocal social justice advocate, even starring in own Netflix series called Trigger Warning, and this song has some pretty overt lyrics that incredibly fitting given recent events. It’s also got a heavy bass thump, so you can crank it up and roll the windows down whether you understand what’s being said or not. Of course, you should listen to what’s being said.

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