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Owners approve MLB season proposal, plan for July start

Major League Baseball owners accepted 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.

The meeting between MLB and the MLB Players Association on Tuesday will set the stage for what both parties expect to be a contentious negotiation.

Although MLB could benefit long-term from being the first American team sport to return amid the coronavirus pandemic, the logistics of beginning the season remain convoluted and require player support. Money is at the heart of the return, sources said.

Owners, fearful of deep financial losses with fan-free stadiums, agreed in a conference call Monday afternoon to a plan that includes a 50-50 revenue split with the players, sources told ESPN.

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Concerns about the league’s handling of testing and ensuring as safe a working environment as possible will be an issue broached by players on Tuesday and in the coming days, sources told ESPN.

Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle took to social media Monday to set that table.

As the sides are negotiating, the league will continue to seek consent from governmental entities and support from the medical community for a potential return.

The season could begin Fourth of July weekend, with games around the country in home stadiums. The intra-division-heavy schedule would be to limit travel, with teams possibly traveling by bus to nearby cities.

If any ballpark is not available because state or local officials have not approved the resumption of play, Manfred has told owners that he is prepared to move that team to another city to play home games, a team owner and a team president told ESPN.

Spring training likely would not include any matches, and teams could get ready for the season at their home stadiums. The 50 players available would be a mixture of major leaguers and top minor league players, with the minor league season in jeopardy.

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