MLB Owners Reportedly Agree to July Return Date

The 2020 Major League Baseball season is drawing closer following a decision by the owners of the 30 teams. They approved making a proposal that could lead to the season starting around the Fourth of July. The games would be held in empty stadiums until health officials determine that it is safe to allow fans once again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to AP News, the proposal will be presented to the players' union on Tuesday. The return of the season will not be possible without the approval of the players. However, the talks could get bogged down due to the financial aspects. AP News reports that the teams will propose that players receive the percentage of their 2020 salaries based on a 50-50 split of revenues MLB receives during the shortened regular-season and postseason. Previous attempts at revenue splits have not been approved by the players, to the point that a strike led to the 1994 World Series being canceled.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that "40 percent of MLB revenue" is tied to the gate. This includes concessions, ballpark advertising, luxury suites and programs. If the fans can't attend the games, this money will not be available for the proposed revenue split. This will be a key part of the discussion considering that the players and teams agreed to a deal on March 26 that called for them to earn only a portion of their salaries based upon the percentage of games played. Although this was contingent upon the presence of fans.

The exact details of the proposal have not been revealed ahead of Tuesday's presentation, but a source told AP News that rosters would be expanded from 26 to around 30 players. Spring training would begin in early to mid-June and the teams would only play 82 regular-season games. The matchups would be within each team's own division and would include predetermined interleague matchups — AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central and AL West vs. NL West.

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The shortened season would incorporate expanded playoffs, with a total of 14 teams taking part in the postseason instead of 10. The All-Star Game, which was previously scheduled for July 14, is likely to be canceled if the proposal is approved. Finally, teams will have the option of holding spring training at their home facilities or in Florida or Arizona.

The return of baseball for the 2020 season is not guaranteed, but the owners are working towards that goal. The next step is presenting the proposal to the players' union on Tuesday. If there are no issues, dates for spring training and opening games could soon be revealed.