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MLB, players' union hope to play at least 100 games after new agreement

Busch Stadium sat empty on what was supposed to be opening day Thursday in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Busch Stadium sat empty on what was supposed to be opening day Thursday in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

March 27 (UPI) -- Major League Baseball hopes to return and play at least 100 games during the 2020 season after being suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sources told USA Today, ESPN and The Athletic about a tentative agreement made Thursday between the league and its players' association regarding baseball's return. The agreement followed weeks of negotiations between players, owners, agents, executives, union officials and the commissioner's office.

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Thursday was scheduled to be opening day for the 2020 season.

MLB owners will vote to ratify the deal at noon EDT Friday on a conference call. The agreement came a day after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN the league would most likely have a shortened regular season, compared to its normal 162 games, this year.

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Manfred said he was optimistic that teams would begin "gearing back up" in May.

The 2020 MLB season initially was suspended for at least two weeks on March 12, with spring training games canceled. The league later pushed its tentative start date into May or beyond in response to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The 162-game MLB regular season typically begins in late March and ends in September before the playoffs start in October.

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Thursday's tentative agreement also addressed salary and service time issues for players. The league and players union agreed that they both want to play as many games as possible and hope to return to training camps in May and start playing regular-season games in June.

Both sides are willing to extend the regular season into October and have neutral-site playoff games in November. The league and players' union also are willing to add doubleheaders to the schedule and play games without fans.

The MLB also agreed to give players a full year of service time, meaning even if players don't play a full 162-game season, they still will receive financial credit for doing so. The service time credit would also be in play even if the 2020 season is canceled, meaning players who have one year remaining on their current contracts can still be free agents next off-season.

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The union also agreed not to sue the league for full player salaries if the season were canceled.

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