Over the last two days we’ve picked up some additional information on how the minor league baseball season may look, especially early on in the year. Last month we found out that Triple-A and the MLB level would have spring training at the same time, but the Double-A, Advanced-A, and Low-A would not begin their spring training until the Triple-A and MLB teams were completed with their spring camps and headed out.
On Monday we heard from Cincinnati Reds general manager Nick Krall, who addressed a whole lot of things right before the start of spring training, but one of them was specific to the actual number of players that will be in spring training. He was asked about additions to the team as they got closer to spring training, and here’s what he had to say:
I think right now we’ve got 65-66 guys that are penciled into camp with regards to Major League/Minor League camp and what we’re trying to do and we’re still trying to work through that with the protocols coming. With that said we’re trying to figure out if we can add more quality guys to this camp and more quality guys to this mix and see what happens.
Right now we’ve got some guys that we’re bringing in that we are waiting to get the protocols before we determine exactly how many and who, but yeah, we’re going to have some prospects in camp as well. I do not know the cap and it’s a lot of hearsay on what the cap is going to be. So we’re just planning on where the group is for right now. And if we add or subtract we’re going to have to go from there.
While Major League Baseball did release their health and safety protocols on Tuesday, absent was the number of players allowed to be “in camp”. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that number will be 75 players (or less).
Triple-A needs to be happening at the same time that the Major League season is taking place because if there are injuries or performance related issues, the clubs at the highest level need to be able to replace guys on the roster. Last year we saw that take place at the alternate sites. This year there’s going to be a minor league season. But while Triple-A does seem to be getting a head start, it doesn’t appear that it’s going to be quite normal.
Within the health and safety protocols released on Tuesday is this passage:
A club is permitted to carry up to five additional taxi squad players on all road trips with the Major League team. If the club elects to carry five additional players, at least one must be a player whose designated position prior to the season is catcher. Players on the taxi squad are permitted to workout with the Major League Club but are not permitted to be in uniform and in the dugout during games. Upon the conclusion of each road trip, players on the taxi squad will return to the alternate training site.
It’s not unexpected that there will be a taxi squad once again this year. I’m not sure how I expected things to work with regards to a taxi squad and Triple-A since that would pull players away from the team and they wouldn’t have “reinforcements” of their own (from say, Double-A) for when those players traveled with the big league team. Maybe having expanded Triple-A rosters until all of the minor leagues began their seasons?
With that said, it seems that the Triple-A season may not actually get going in April when spring training is over, but instead the players set to head to Triple-A will head somewhere (whether that’s the Triple-A site, or if teams will utilize other facilities as they did last year for the season) to be ready until the minor league season begins everywhere – presumably in early May as is expected.