Yankees reliever Zack Britton says MLB, Players Association have discussed four or five neutral sites

Under normal circumstances, Major League Baseball's 2020 season would have turned a week old on Thursday. Instead, the spread of the novel coronavirus has delayed the start of the season, and could soon threaten the chances of there being a season of any kind. For now, anyway, MLB and the Players Association continue to discuss ways to deliver regular-season baseball to the country, even if the end result looks a lot different than the standard variety. 

A shortened season is a given, and some other possibilities floated in recent weeks include the potential for empty-stadium games, weekly doubleheaders, and a postseason played exclusively at neutral-site stadiums. Some regular season games might have to be played elsewhere, too, and it appears that MLB and the MLBPA already have alternatives in mind.

On Wednesday, New York Yankees left-hander Zack Britton said during an interview with MLB Network Radio that MLB and MLBPA have "slightly discussed" up to "four or five" sites that could host a team whose home market is considered unsafe. Britton acknowledged that the Yankees could be one of those teams, given the spread of the coronavirus in New York.

It must be noted that there are some logistical concerns about playing games at a neutral site. 

The biggest is that COVID-19 is not exclusive to one region or state; it's everywhere. Certainly some areas have done a better job of containment, and some will be further along by virtue of being exposed to the virus at an earlier date, but there is no area that will go unaffected. MLB can, theoretically, reduce the risk of infection by playing games outside of a hot bed; it cannot erase the risk entirely, however, barring additional measures to isolate its teams.

As such, MLB will need to have well-developed plans for aggressive testing and an appropriate response for if and when a player (or players) contracts the illness. Over in Japan, for instance, Nippon Professional Baseball's season had to be delayed again after Hanshin Tigers righty Shintaro Fujinami and two teammates tested positive for the coronavirus.

MLB and the Players Association, then, have their hands full. While it's encouraging to see the two sides getting creative, it's going to require even more ingenuity to hash out a reasonable plan forward. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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