MLB players who choose to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 reportedly won’t be able to travel to Canada when the new season begins on April 7, and will face other consequences as a result of their choice.
According to WCVB’s Duke Castiglione and Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith, players who are unvaccinated will be placed on the restricted list when their teams travel to Canada to play the Toronto Blue Jays. Players on the restricted list do not accrue service time or receive salary for missed games.
Davidi reported that the issue of putting unvaccinated players on the restricted list when their team travels to Canada is part of the new collective bargaining agreement, and was a “significant discussion point” among players on Thursday before the MLBPA reached an agreement with MLB to end the lockout.
“A few teams took serious issue with the matter, but ultimately relented,” Davidi reported.
Teams can place players on the restricted list for a number of reasons, but typically it’s used for players who aren’t able or choose not to play for non-baseball reasons, or for players who are in trouble with the law. For example, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Adam Haseley stepped away from baseball in 2021 for personal reasons, and while he was gone he was placed on the restricted list. The Phillies didn’t pay him and he didn’t accrue service time, but retained their rights to him so he could return to the team when he was ready.
While we don’t know which team’s players objected to the new provision in the CBA, we can take an educated guess: the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Bay Rays. They’re the other four teams in the AL East, and they play the Toronto Blue Jays more than anyone else in MLB.
Divisional teams play each other 19 times each in 2022, with the games roughly divided in half between home and away. So a player on an AL East team who chooses to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 will reportedly have no choice but to miss 9-10 games this season and will not be compensated for them.