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When could MLB actually return? Here's the latest we're hearing

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Passan: MLB's deal on stoppage is a win-win (1:40)

Jeff Passan gives the logistics for MLB's deal with the players' association to grant a full season of service, regardless of the number of games played. (1:40)

When Major League Baseball announced Opening Day would be delayed by at least two weeks, two words stood out: at least.

As each day passes, and the coronavirus pandemic continues, it's clear those two weeks could likely become two months -- or more.

Here's the latest on what we're hearing about a possible start to the 2020 MLB season, and how the schedule, special events, playoffs and World Series would be affected.

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March 27: MLB, MLBPA hoping to start games as early as June

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association struck a deal on critical salary and service-time issues Thursday night, allowing the sides to prepare together for a season delayed indefinitely by the coronavirus pandemic, sources told ESPN.

While there is no formal framework in the agreement, owners and players both want to play as many games as possible, with an eye on returning to training camps in mid-May and starting games as early as June -- even if they play in front of no fans. The flexibility of both sides was seen in the willingness to extend the regular season into October, play neutral-site playoff games in November and add doubleheaders to the schedule.

Passan & McDaniel: What the deal means for 2020 and beyond

March 25: MLB, union weighing restart variables

MLB and the MLBPA have worked toward a potential agreement over the past 10 days on a number of issues, acknowledging the inevitability of a shortened season that both parties hope would begin by early June and would guarantee players a prorated salary that would depend on the number of games played, according to sources. Multiple players told ESPN they are willing to play a significant number of doubleheaders -- as many as two a week -- to make up for lost games and try to get as close to a full 162-game schedule as possible.-- Jeff Passan

March 17: What players are being told

Here's what Yankees reliever Zack Britton, who is the team's union representative, said when asked about the possibility of returning to Florida for more spring training before games resume: "I think the recommendation from the union was for guys to go wherever they felt comfortable for the next 4-6 weeks, (whether) that was staying here at the facility, going home if that was going to New York, which obviously the majority guys aren't going to go to New York because of the spread of the virus up there. But that was the recommendation from the union, that's what I passed on to the guys."

March 16: Is a June return realistic?

Rob Manfred announced after a conference call with all 30 teams that Major League Baseball will push back Opening Day until mid-May at the earliest after the federal government recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.


From the start, my over-under on when the MLB season will begin has been the All-Star Game, based on both the sentiment of people high up in baseball and at the union and simply looking at the trajectory of Italy. But even then, that feels somewhat optimistic. I was texting with one player and told him I was with friends for a fantasy draft this weekend. And he said, "Baseball in 2020. Fantasy indeed." -- Jeff Passan


There are folks at the team level who think that a return in June might be possible but, in the end, may be an optimistic projection. The realities of the federal and state guidelines and the calendar of baseball preparation supports that: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just recommended having no crowds of greater than 50 for the next eight weeks -- and assuming that MLB and the players' association would respect that guideline (and there's no reason to think they wouldn't), that would mean that spring training wouldn't resume until mid-May, at the earliest.

Players would need at least two to three weeks after that to prepare for the start of a truncated season, which backs us up into June. And, of course, the rapidly changing circumstances will continue to dictate the context for any decision. -- Buster Olney