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Bob Nightengale optimistic there will be a 2020 baseball season

Tim Locastro #16 (C) of the Arizona Diamondbacks is congratulated by Adam Jones #10, Carson Kelly #18, Nick Ahmed #13 and Jarrod Dyson #1 after Locastro hit a walk-off RBI single against the San Francisco Giants during the 10th inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on June 23, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 3-2 in 10 innings. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The back-and-forth between MLB and its players’ association doesn’t bode well for getting a baseball season started any time soon.

But USA Today baseball columnist Bob Nightengale is optimistic one will happen.

“The players realize that if there’s no season, it’s just going to crush the free agent market, it’s going to crush the salary structure for years,” Nightengale told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf. “And the owners realize if there’s no season, it’s going to set the sport back decades.

“Just these two sides knowing that they need each other, way too much to lose. It’d be suicidal. It always starts off like this. People ripping each other, I’m not going to accept this or do that, and then they reach a compromise.”

Dreams of Opening Day falling on July 4 would be a fitting celebration of America’s pastime, though Nightengale said Friday that timetable might be too ambitious.

“I think they’ll reach an agreement in a week or 10 days and then guys start showing up for spring training,” Nightingale said. “Most teams now are going to stay put. Even San Francisco [Thursday] said they’re going to stay in San Francisco and train instead of coming back to Scottsdale. And then teams will give guys about five days to seven days to show up. They’ll have a minimum of three weeks of spring training, and then the season starts.”

Some of the earliest proposals to resume the season called for teams to congregate in hub cities like Phoenix or across the state of Florida. Now it sounds like that’s not the plan.

“I think everybody will be in their own ballpark,” Nightengale said. “Worst comes to worse, say the Dodgers have to go to Anaheim, have their home games there. Say the Giants have to play in Oakland. I think the only team in baseball that can’t play at home is the Toronto Blue Jays just because of travel restrictions with Canada. They’ll probably have to play in Detroit unless they want to go to their spring training site in Florida.”

Before that can happen, though, teams and players have to agree on money. Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer said in a statement Thursday that he didn’t feel there was any need to continue negotiating on the issue of compensation, since players already agreed to pro-rate their salaries in the 2020 season.

“The bottom line is, there’s no deadline on this thing,” Nightengale said. “If you start playing games on July 11, big deal. July 18, keep going on. There’s no deadline on this deal.”


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