The Nashville Sounds are determined to have summer baseball at First Horizon Park in 2020, even if it isn’t in the traditional sense.
On Wednesday, Sounds General Manager Adam Nuse said the club is planning to play a 40-game schedule with two teams made up of the best available MLB free agent players.
“I’m going to go out and find the best 40 guys that are out there and pay them and we’re going to try and open up the ballpark to about 25-percent capacity and try to be one of the first sports venues to open up for Nashville and kind of set the tone for what that looks like,” Nuse said in a radio interview with 104.5 FM the Zone.
“We got excited about it when we started this process two months ago. Through the process of trying to get approval, Major League Baseball had thought about it and wanted to get in on it and it’s been a big rollercoaster with them.”
No exact timetable is known just yet, but Nuse said he hopes to begin the season on July 23 and should know more from MLB in the next few days. The current plan is for the season to run until the end of September with the two teams playing Thursday through Sunday with attendance at First Horizon Park capped at about 2,000 fans.
“If Major League Baseball gets behind it, they’re supposed to give us a proposal today or maybe tomorrow on what that looks like, but we’re going to do this one way or another whether they’re there to help us," Nuse continued. "If they help us, it’ll be the best 60 guys out there. They wanted 60 players; if I do this, I’m going to find the best 40 guys. We’re paying them, so I’ve got to keep payroll down a little bit…They’ll hopefully be Triple A, big-league caliber guys.”
Nuse stated since the Texas Rangers would normally pay the salaries for Sounds players as part of the teams' Triple A agreement, the Sounds will be on the hook for the player’s salaries in 2020.
All players would be considered part of an “emergency pool,” which any MLB team could turn to for replacement players for injuries or anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus. Should any MLB team want a player from the two Sounds-operated teams, they will have to pay a fee to the Sounds before being able to sign them.
Current free agents include pitchers Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas, Clay Buccholz, Matt Harvey, Fernando Rodney and Patt Nesheck, plus position players Russell Martin (catcher), Mark Reynolds (first base), Yonder Alonso (first base), Ben Zobrist (second base), Gordon Beckham (second base), Hanley Ramirez (shortstop), Addison Russell (shortstop), Tim Beckham (shortstop), Jacoby Ellsbury (outfield), Yasiel Puig (outfield) and Melky Cabrera (outfield).
The Sounds are also working on a plan for current season ticket holders and will release more information on that once details of 2020 games becomes available.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_