For the New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams, issues become clearer on what a 2021 baseball season will look like. It appears that spring training will start on time, the season will be a full 162 games, and that fans will be let into major league parks in some fashion. Other issues like rules and an expanded postseason are yet to be dealt with.
Last week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo allowed fans in the stands at a Buffalo Bills game while adhering to social distancing and plans to allow them again this weekend. The present posture does not allow fans in large venues. Cuomo will not have to make that decision for Yankee Stadium or Citi Field for several months. However, fans will likely be allowed in the stands even if it is not for the first few games at home parks.
MLB can allow anything it wants, but ultimately those decisions remain in the local health authority’s hands. Some parks may allow fans socially distanced with tickets sold in small pods. Some parks may require vaccinations or negative coronavirus tests, while others may not require anything at all. At least at the beginning of the season, do not expect to see stadiums jam-packed.
As first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Commissioner Bob Manfred has contacted teams telling them they aim to have a complete 162 game season. This after previously saying that team owners wanted to delay the season by a month. That proposal was immediately put down by Players Union Director Tony Clark. In the communication, he also told owners to prepare to start spring training on time in February.
As soon as this news came out, the Chicago White Sox, the second most active team in the offseason, went ahead and signed one of the most coveted relievers in the game. They signed Liam Hendriks to a five-year $54 million deal. Hendriks has been on the wish list of the New York Yankees who need bullpen help with the loss of Tommy Kahnle. The Australian born Hendriks pitched in 24 games last season for the Athletics with a tiny 1.78 ERA.
Now that the 2021 revenues are becoming clearer, the New York Yankees may get more aggressive after doing relatively nothing this offseason. They have made it a priority to re-sign DJ LeMahieu, but they have not yet come to a deal. With this news, they may push LeMahieu for an answer, and if they can not get a positive response, move on and get to the business of improving the team for the upcoming season. The Yankees have seen any number of potential targets now sign with other teams.