MESA, Ariz. — Will the Cubs’ vaccination statuses that became an issue in 2021 carry over to 2022 even as MLB transitions into something closer to a post-COVID-19 world with the new collective bargaining agreement?
They will if Canada has anything to say about it.
Canada does now allow unvaccinated visitors to cross its borders when it comes to the ongoing COVID pandemic, and this year that means the Cubs, who are scheduled to play in Toronto Aug. 29-31.
“We have three days to figure out the protocols and exactly how those are going to work,” Cubs union rep Ian Happ said Friday, the first day players were allowed to show up to spring training camps after Thursday’s ratification of a new labor agreement.
“There’s not much you can do about a country of Canada and their rules,” Happ said. “No one’s going to knock on the prime minister’s door to figure this out.”
For now, MLB has decided unvaccinated players on teams scheduled to play in Toronto would be placed on the restricted list (and not paid or that time) when their teams travel to Canada, according to multiple reports.
That’s part of numerous details still to be worked out in the next few days as the language in the new CBA and COVID-related protocols are finalized.
“We have a responsibility for the next three days to really hammer out what those protocols are going to be and then figure out how that pertains especially to the AL East and teams that are constantly traveling to Toronto.”
One potential union concern over this issue is whether affected teams will use vaccination statuses as factors in whether to acquire players as execs scramble to fill rosters now that the lockout has been lifted.
“It was definitely a big source of conversation in the last few days,” Happ said.
The Cubs were one of the least vaccinated teams in baseball last year and finished the season with a final-week COVID outbreak that involved at least five players, including David Bote and Patrick Wisdom.
“Unfortunately — or fortunately — for the group [of negotiators], we just got this thing finished, but there’s more work to do,” Happ said. “So those guys, as much as they got to take a deep breath yesterday, they’ll be back at it hammering out those protocols and getting things figured out. Because there is that; there’s return to play; figuring exactly what the rules are going to look like — we still have that stuff to do. I think that’s quite a process.”