Per Shannon Drayer of 710 AM ESPN and My Northwest, Jerry Dipoto sees Seattle’s home park as the best option for restarting baseball activities if and when MLB and the 30 team ownership groups agree on a deal with the MLB Players Association to put on a season in 2020. From Drayer, Friday evening, Dipoto stated his hopes and preference that the team host their “Spring Training 2.0” in Seattle, at T-Mobile Park, instead of at the team’s complex in Arizona:
“Playing/training at home is certainly our preference as long as our government and health officials allow it,” said Jerry Dipoto via text on Friday.
This morning, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee opened the door to professional sports restarting in the state, beginning June 5 (today). Teams will not be permitted to have fans in the park, and must submit a detailed plan for both the league and their team specifically to safely restart play, with communication and coordination from local health officials.
A thornier issue for MLB in particular, is that the state will require any league to have the safety plans for restarting games be approved by the relevant players’ union or other association representing the players. Because MLB has rejected the latest MLBPA proposal and stated they do not intend to make another offer, there’s a real possibility the MLB season only restarts via fiat from Rob Manfred. That would mean Manfred mandating a 45-50 game season, as is ownership’s preference, and could create severe issues in luring MLBPA to agree to any deal on those terms, thereby failing to meet Inslee’s requirements for games in the state.
The other question is what location is actually preferable. T-Mobile Park is great, and rainout-proof for games and practices, but as Drayer notes, it has just five pitching mounds, and only one field, with likely 40-50 players to cycle through between the active and taxi squad rosters. Having pushed The Sodfather into retirement, it’s a hefty task to keep the field in quality shape, especially when even the more limited high school parks at least have adjacent access to a softball or little league field to get extra infield work. Moreover, an Arizona setup would allow scrimmages with other clubs with greater regularity. On the other hand, minimizing travel to some degree, and getting players set up in their season-long homes might be preferable, and with extended rosters players can get reps against one another if the Mariners think they’ll have enough pitching.