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On Monday morning MLB was stuck with news that could jeopardize the future of their season. About 40% of the Miami Marlins roster and personnel tested positive for the coronavirus.

Miami has played just three of 60 games in the season, all against the Philadelphia Phillies. Accordingly, MLB has postponed the Marlins-Orioles and Phillies-Yankees games for the time being. The last thing the league wants is one of its major market World Series contenders like the Dodgers or Yankees coming up with multiple positive tests.

The players and coaches who have tested positive will be self-quarantining until cleared for return. The Phillies also announced that all staff that were in the clubhouse with the Marlins will be quarantining. Under these circumstances, a player requires two negative tests 24 hours apart and approval from team doctors to rejoin the team. They also must be asymptomatic for 72 hours in order to come back.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter released a statement detailing the team’s plans after the outbreak. The Marlins will stay in Philadelphia until they feel it’s safe to travel, and the team will look for new players to bring in to replace the ones with the virus.

Here are some things we may see from the fallout of the Marlins outbreak:

  • A rule making it a requirement for all players and staff to wear masks
  • The Atlanta Braves could perform more tests and possibly quarantine since they played two exhibition games against Miami last week
  • MLB implements a lottery system allowing clubs with outbreaks to a pool of free agents and minor leaguers play for the major league team
  • Depending on how many more cases are confirmed, Citizens Bank Ballpark could be shut down for a while
  • Possible penalties for teams that play after knowingly have multiple positive tests

One thing we almost know for sure is that this completely eliminates the chance at getting any fans back in ballparks this year. There’s no way teams will allow any fans inside their parks especially after a large upsurge in cases like the one we are seeing now.

While I doubt this is the last outbreak we are going to see in the coming months, it is the most important one. The way MLB deals with this will set the expectations and boundaries for all proceeding issues, not just for baseball, but for all sports returning this month. Hopefully they find a way to handle this and safely and get Miami and Philadelphia back on the baseball diamond.

Photo credit: Miami Herald