When Major League Baseball announced in March that 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, those two weeks have become multiple months -- and it could be even 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.
June 22: After MLBPA votes 'no' on 60-game proposal, owners vote to proceed
The players' union voted 33-5 to reject MLB's 60-game offer with expanded playoffs, putting commissioner Rob Manfred in position to unilaterally implement a schedule of his choosing. The owners followed that up by voting to proceed with a 2020 season under the terms of the previous March 26 agreement with the players. Manfred has asked the union to help determine if July 1 is a viable date for players to report to camp to prepare for a regular season that sources say will be 60 games in length, with Opening Day around July 24.
June 19: MLB 'will not play more than 60 games' or respond to players' latest plan
"MLB has informed the Association that it will not respond to our last proposal and will not play more than 60 games," the MLBPA said in a statement released Friday evening. MLB's last offer was for a 60-game season made on Wed., June 17 or the commissioner could try to implement a shorter season.
June 17: MLB offers 60 games, full pay as Manfred, Clark meet
Major League Baseball sent a proposal for a 60-game season at full prorated pay to the MLB Players Association, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney on Wednesday.
With MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark having met face to face this week, the latest offer is seen as significant progress.
Under the proposal, the season would begin July 19, sources told Olney, with the 60-game slate containing 10 off-days. Sources on both sides of the negotiations said there is an expectation that further talks will result in a schedule of about 65 games.
Sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan that the offer includes an expanded playoff format.
June 13: Players reject offer, ask for a 2020 schedule
The players rejected the owners' third offer, with MLBPA chief Tony Clark stating, "Further dialogue with the league would be futile. It's time to get back to work. Tell us when and where."
A March agreement between the parties allows MLB to set a schedule, and the league has suggested that in the absence of a negotiated agreement with the union, it could impose a schedule of somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 games and pay players full prorated salaries worth a total of around $1.25 billion.
MLBPA lead negotiator Bruce Meyer, in a letter sent to deputy commissioner Dan Halem on Saturday night, said: "We demand that you inform us of your plans by close of business on Monday, June 15."
June 12: Owners offer 72-game season
The owners replied to the union's offer with a longer regular season that would end on Sept. 27 and an agreement on a 16-team postseason. However, they did not accept full prorated salaries, instead proposing to max out player compensation at 80% of full prorated salaries, including an extra $50 million that would go to playoff teams and bring the overall percentage up to 83%. They also offered 30-man rosters for the first two weeks of the season, 28 for the next two weeks and 26 after that.
June 9: Players respond with 89-game proposal
The MLBPA is reportedly going to counter with a new offer, one with an 89-game regular season, full prorated salaries for players, expanded 16-team playoffs for 2020-21 and opt-out options for players -- with compensation and service time if they're at risk or reside with someone at high risk related to COVID-19, and without compensation or service time if they're not deemed to have high-risk concerns.
June 8: 76-game proposal by league quickly dismissed by players
Major League Baseball's latest economic proposal for a 2020 season offered a higher potential salary than the last plan but less guaranteed money over a 76-game season, and was quickly dismissed by the players' union, sources told ESPN. MLB's proposal includes potential earnings that would cover up to 75% of players' prorated salaries over a 76-game season, but only if the playoffs are held. The proposal also would get rid of a rule where teams signing major free agents lose a draft pick, which would open up the market for players.
We asked some of our MLB reporters if this brings us closer to having a 2020 season. The answer: Probably not.
June 1: MLB mulls shorter season, full prorated salaries for players
Unable to yet reach a return-to-play agreement, Major League Baseball has discussed playing a shorter schedule in which it would pay members of the MLB Players Association their full prorated salaries, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.
Although MLB does not intend to propose this to the players, the possibility of implementing a schedule of around 50 games that would start in July has been considered by the league as a last resort in the event that the parties can't come to a deal, sources said.
ESPN's Jesse Rogers explains how this could help both sides find common ground.
May 31: MLBPA proposes 114-game season
The Major League Baseball Players Association delivered a return-to-play proposal to MLB on Sunday that includes a 114-game season, deferred salaries in the event of a canceled postseason and the option for all players to opt out of a potential 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns, sources familiar with the details told ESPN.
The proposal, which was the first from the union and came on the heels of an MLB plan that was loudly rejected by the players, comes at a seminal moment as baseball tries to become the first major American professional sport to return. Although the players expect the league to reject it, they hope it will serve as a bridge to a potential deal.
May 27: Players balk at owners' first financial proposal
MLB drew the ire of the players' union with an economic proposal that called for a significant cut in salaries, particularly for the game's highest paid players, sources told ESPN. While recent days undoubtedly have looked and felt bad for the game's return, Jeff Passan says it's a touch early to go full doomsday.
May 23: A critical week in talks between league, players
The long-awaited proposal from MLB on an economic plan for this year will be sent to the union early the week of May 25, multiple sources briefed on the league's intentions told ESPN. While there has been progress on the health-and-safety elements of a return, fundamental disagreements on money endure. It's the kind of problem that in normal circumstances would take months to address. Baseball doesn't have months. It has days. Jeff Passan breaks it all down.
May 16: Details of MLB's health and safety plan seem daunting
The league's ambitious return-to-play plans include processing upward of 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week, and overhauling stadiums and in-game settings to encourage social distancing, according to a draft of the league's health-and-safety manual obtained by ESPN.
Jeff Passan takes a deep look at the plan, which in its detail illustrates the enormity of the task at getting the season started.
May 12: Next two weeks make-or-break stretch for 2020 MLB season
As MLB owners present their proposal for a 2020 season to players an ugly financial fight is taking shape between the two sides. Jeff Passan explains why getting differences settled in the next two weeks is a must for any hope of seeing baseball in 2020.
May 11: Owners approve MLB season proposal plan for July start
Major League Baseball owners approved a proposal that commissioner Rob Manfred plans to present to players Tuesday on a return-to-play scenario that aims to have baseball back in home stadiums by early July, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.
May 10: MLB proposal could come as soon as Tuesday
MLB could present its proposal on how to start the season as soon as Tuesday, according to multiple sources. Safety in handling a return is on the minds of many players as they wait for MLB's plan.
"I don't think anything can be done until that [safety] can be guaranteed and we feel comfortable with it," MLBPA executive board member and St. Louis Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller told ESPN. "We want to put a good product on the field, but that's totally secondary to the health of the players. We are generally younger and healthier, but that doesn't mean our staff is, that doesn't mean the umpires are going to be in the clear.
May 6: MLB starting to tell players to get ready
The Cleveland Indians are among the MLB teams that are telling their players to get ready for baseball -- albeit without a specific date -- as MLB prepares to come to the MLBPA with a specific plan on when the season could start, according to Jeff Passan.
May 5: Union chief says focus is on player safety
In an interview with ESPN's Marly Rivera, Tony Clark makes it clear that, while the union waits on a formal MLB proposal to play in 2020, they're focused on what's best for the players' well-being.
April 27: Optimism high about playing in 2020
Over the past two weeks, as states have begun to plan their reopenings, nearly everyone along the decision-making continuum -- league officials, players, union leaders, owners, doctors, politicians, TV power brokers, team executives -- has grown increasingly optimistic that there will be baseball this year, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
The season could still take many forms with games beginning in front of empty stadiums still very likely when play does resume.
April 7: Is an MLB season in Arizona a real possibility?
Major League Baseball and its players are increasingly focused on a plan that could allow them to start the season as early as May and has the support of high-ranking federal public health officials who believe the league can safely operate amid the coronavirus pandemic, sources told ESPN.
The plan, sources said, would dictate that all 30 teams play games at stadiums with no fans in the Phoenix area, including the Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities and perhaps other nearby fields. Players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation and travel only to and from the stadium, sources said. Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health have been supportive of a plan that would adhere to strict isolation, promote social distancing and allow MLB to become the first professional sport to return.
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.
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