Several Major League Baseball teams are apparently planning to at least try to play in front of fans in 2020.
Whether fans are present in stadiums or not is ultimately being left to teams and local authorities. With that in mind, it was reported on Wednesday that several teams are at least looking into the possibility of hosting some fans.
Danny Parkins of 670 The Score reported that the White Sox are planning to play games at Guaranteed Rate Field with a limited number of fans.
Mini-scoop: I'm told the White Sox are planning to play with a limited number of fans in the stands this year. I haven't gotten a confirmation on the Cubs. Exact capacity isn't known and obviously subject to change but thought is around 20%.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also told KTVV/Channel 11 that the state was eager to work with both the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers to allow fans to attend games.
“We look forward to working with the teams and to find out there strategies to make sure they will be able to open up their stadiums safely,” Abbott said, via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Know this: If those teams can not make the case to the public that their stadiums will be safe, the public will not show up. So, I feel confident we will find safe ways to open up the stadiums and have fans in the stands to watch Major League Baseball.”
Astros owner Jim Crane made clear that he planned to look for ways to allow fans to attend games.
Jim Crane: "The intent at some point is to get fans in the ballpark."
A lot of clarity will come on this in the weeks to come. Teams will have to determine how full stadiums can be, if at all. That said, owners will do everything they can to get fans in the stadium, as the revenue losses if games are played in empty ballparks would be significant.
The MLB season looks like it will be played in some form, which is good news for teams who had high hopes for the 2020 season. Multiple teams have put the pieces in place to have a very good season — sometimes in a way that will defy expectations.
Here are five MLB teams that had poor 2019 seasons but could be poised to surprise in 2020.
Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that it is extending its support program for minor league players during the coronavirus pandemic, and those at the lower levels of the Texas Rangers’ farm system have even more money coming their way courtesy of Shin-Soo Choo.
In addition to the $400 per week and medical benefits they will get from MLB, Rangers minor leaguers will also be receiving $1,000 each from Choo. The kind gesture was first reported by Korean sports website Naver Sports, which obtained information about a text message exchange between Choo and Rangers minor leaguer Eli White.
“Hey, Choo, this is Eli. Thanks for helping me out with the per diem checks,” White wrote to Choo in one text. “It is going to help my wife and I out a lot.”
Choo replied by telling White “don’t worry about money” and assuring the 25-year-old he can come to Choo if he needs “something more.”
There are 190 minor leaguers in the Rangers’ system, so Choo will be giving out at least $190,000. The report was confirmed by Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News, who said Choo approached the Rangers with the idea after spring training was shut down in March.
Choo is set to earn $21 million in 2020 and has made more than $130 million during his MLB career. The 37-year-old has become one of the most respected leaders in the Rangers clubhouse, and it’s easy to see why. At a time of great uncertainty for people across the globe, athletes have stepped up with some incredible gestures to help ease the burden.
The Texas Rangers have fallen short in most of their free agent pursuits this offseason, but better news may be on the way.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Rangers had a successful meeting with free agent Nicholas Castellanos. He came away impressed by the organization, and they are one of the finalists to sign him.
Morosi lists the Cubs, White Sox, and Giants as other teams who have some interest in Castellanos.
Castellanos has been a right fielder and could play there for Texas, but first base would also be an option. Either way, he fits the profile of a right-handed power bat the Rangers have been pursuing all winter, having fallen short in the Anthony Rendon sweepstakes.
Splitting time between the Tigers and Cubs in 2019, Castellanos hit .289 overall with 27 home runs and 58 doubles.
The Rangers have been busy on the pitching front, adding one of the biggest names on the market via trade. Castellanos would bolster the offense as they attempt to move into contention in 2020.
The Cleveland Indians have been talking about a Corey Kluber trade with a number of teams this winter, and they finally dealt the pitcher on Sunday to the Texas Rangers.
Texas sent reliever Emmanuel Clase and outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. to Cleveland for Kluber.
The Los Angeles Angels were reportedly optimistic about their chances of landing Kluber, but the Rangers must have offered a better deal. The Angels are still looking to improve their starting rotation after they were outbid by the New York Yankees for Gerrit Cole.
Kluber will turn 34 shortly after the 2020 season begins, and he didn’t pitch after May 1 last season after suffering a fractured right forearm. However, he has been phenomenal when healthy and posted a 2.85 ERA and 1.02 WHIP from 2014 through 2018. He won two Cy Young awards during that span.
There was no indication of whether the fire might impact the park’s scheduled 2020 opening in any way, but it seems to have been minor. Hopefully the cause is less stupid than what happened to a Mets minor league affiliate last season.