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Major League Baseball is set to submit a return-to-play proposal to the players union within the next week, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Wednesday night.

According to Passan, citing sources, MLB teams have begun encouraging their players to prepare for a second spring training that would start in mid-June, with the season kicking off in early July.

Passan added managers and general managers from “at least a dozen teams” have told players to start ramping up their training for baseball’s return to play, though other teams have been cautious with those guidelines. 

An agreement between team owners and the union would be a big step as MLB attempts to map out a 2020 season delayed six weeks thus far due to COVID-19. However, numerous hurdles exist, and Passan noted “some industry leaders” believe a late June/early July return is optimistic.

RELATED: MLB umpires agree to take significant pay cut for 2020 season

No proposal for baseball’s return can work unless adequate coronavirus testing becomes available. MLB’s return is contingent on approval from the government and public health officials. There needs to be expansive testing available where MLB and other pro sports leagues aren’t impeding the general public from being tested.

Further, the league must prepare for the possibility of a club’s home city becoming a coronavirus hot spot. Baseball’s return represents a risk to the health of players, coaches and essential team personnel. In fact, Passan’s report says "multiple players" have contacted the union asking what would happen if they opted out of playing in 2020, citing concerns over testing positive and a desire to remain with their families.


Two Cubs employees tested positive for the virus in March. Passan noted any return-to-play proposal will include contingency plans in case circumstances around the virus worsen. 

There is momentum towards playing games in home ballparks, Passan said, which could help the union feel comfortable with a return to play. However, he added owners have pushed for players to take pay cuts in 2020 due to expected economic losses, as fans will likely not be in attendance for a chunk, if not all of the season. 

The union agreed to a deal in late March stating players will be paid prorated salaries based on games played. According to Passan, the players believe that deal should cover any pay cuts.

Whether or not the two sides agree to a deal, the groundwork is being laid for baseball's return. The season starting in early July may prove to be unrealistic, but MLB submitting a proposal points to its preparation for a hopeful return.

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