The baseball restart has not gone smoothly thus far, which makes you wonder if issues regarding COVID-19 tests could have been prevented had the owners and players’ association not argued about money for two months.

This is a real concern, as the delay in test results have forced teams to cancel their workouts and players to sit out longer than they should before being cleared to resume practice. There have been dozens of players who have tested positive for COVID-19 and others who have decided to opt out of the restart since they are not comfortable playing in the current environment.

There will be more players who test positive prior to the beginning of the regular season and more who will throughout the season. We’re only playing fantasy baseball, so in the grand scheme of things the challenge of constructing a roster is miniscule. However, we do have to deal with it and fantasy leagues need to accommodate this.

I suggest deeper rosters and/or more spots so that when players do end up on the injured list, leagues can easily adapt. This is why I suggested in part one of our restart series, American League- and National League-only formats should not happen. We need a larger player pool this season.

Fantasy drafts should also be held as late as possible. This is always a strong suggestion, but in the ever-changing landscape we are currently in, I think it’s in the best interest of every league.

We have seen impact hitters like Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers test positive, and there is no timetable for when they will return. It’s extremely difficult to draft them currently, but closer to the season we may find out that they won’t miss much time.

Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is self-quarantining because he was in contact with someone who tested positive. We don’t know when he will return, but hopefully soon.

These are the obstacles fantasy owners will have to face throughout the season so the need to be flexible is a must.

Consensus No. 1 overall draft pick Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is on record saying he is not comfortable right now, so who knows if he decides to opt out or not. If I’m drafting today, I’m not taking the best player in baseball No. 1 overall. In high stakes formats where there is a lot of money on the line, Trout’s average draft position reflects his statement. He is being selected around the fifth pick.

That may not seem like much, but for a player who is always the first or second pick, that’s a big deal. Our philosophy in the shortened season is to limit risk. This reflects our starting pitching strategy mentioned in part one. We don’t have enough time to overcome mistakes and we need to have that mindset this year.

We’ll soon begin evaluating the players we like and don’t like for the remainder of the draft season. I wanted to wait because I didn’t know how this restart would go — and I was correct. The hope is that after a week the issues with testing results will be resolved and there will be more clarity as to when players will return. We can focus on the guys who are on the field and begin constructing a roster that will win a championship.

Phil Backert

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