MLB Orders All Teams To Halt Domestic, International Scouting Operations
In the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak that canceled the remainder of spring training and delayed the start of the regular season, MLB sent a memo to clubs on Monday that all scouting activity—both domestic and international—would be temporarily prohibited.
This means clubs will not be able to hold workouts or tryouts, attend high school or college games, showcases or workouts or conduct in-home visits with players.
Below is the memo sent to MLB clubs:
“Over the past few days, we have been in touch with Clubs regarding the effects of the spread of coronavirus on domestic and international scouting operation. Although we have not made any decisions regarding the 2020 First-Year Player Draft or 2020-2021 International Signing Period, we are continuing to monitor the situation and will provide guidance to the Clubs on these events as soon as possible.
Many Clubs have voiced significant concerns about the health and safety risks to Club employees and amateur players associated with continued scouting operations in this environment. As a result, effective immediately, the Commissioner's Office hereby imposes a temporary prohibition on all Club scouting activities, both domestic and international. During this time, Clubs may not hold tryouts (public or private) or attend non-Club amateur baseball events (e.g. games, showcases, workouts). Clubs also may not conduct in-home or other in-person visits or administer any tests or assessments of amateur players that are done as part of the pre-draft or pre-signing process. In addition, Clubs may not encourage players to conduct tryouts, workouts or games that Clubs would be able to watch remotely. These prohibitions will be in effect until further notice.
We appreciate your cooperation as we work to put in place protections that are designed to preserve the integrity of the amateur talent acquisition systems. Any Club that violates these prohibitions will be subject to discipline by the Commissioner’s office.”
Scouts told Baseball America prior to the announcement that they anticipated such a move, as the health and safety of individual scouts and the public is more important than potential competitive advantages that could be gained by continuing to scout the little baseball that continues to take place.
"MLB's decision is a no brainer," said one scouting director. "Teams and scouts should not lose out from a competitive standpoint in an effort to preserve and promote public health. Mandating that across all teams makes all the sense in the world."
Without such a memo, teams could be put in the position where they had to weigh the competitive advantages that could potentially be gained with the health of their employees, draft prospects and other individuals they could come into contact with.
MLB’s memo also indicates there has not yet been a decision made in regards to the 2020 draft—whether it will be pushed back later in the calendar, shortened, or simply take place as normal.