The agreement comes as dozens of MLB players and staff have recently tested positive for COVID-19

By Ashley Boucher
June 23, 2020 08:07 PM
Baseball netting at stadium
Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez
| Credit: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty

The Major League Baseball Players Association has come to an agreement with the league to begin the 2020 season next month, putting an end to the sport's months-long hiatus as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Of course, the 2020 season will look much different than usual thanks to the virus.

Players agreed to report for training camp on July 1, and Opening Day will be either July 23 or 24, the MLB announced Tuesday. CBS Sports was first to report news of the agreement.

The proposed 60-game schedule is under review by the MLBPA, a press release from the MLB obtained by PEOPLE on Tuesday said.

In order to "mitigate travel," the proposed schedule will "largely feature divisional play, with the remaining portion of each Club’s games against their opposite league’s corresponding geographical division (i.e., East vs. East, Central vs. Central and West vs. West)," the press release said.

"The vast majority of Major League Clubs are expected to conduct training at the ballparks in their primary home cities," the press release said.

The regular season — which features less than half the number of games played in a typical season — will end in September, and the postseason will end by October. That timing follows Dr. Anthony Fauci's recommendation that the baseball season take place during the summer and "avoid" playing in the colder late fall and winter months.

"Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon," league commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., said in a statement. "We have provided the Players Association with a schedule to play 60 games and are excited to provide our great fans with Baseball again soon."

The two organizations have been negotiating for months on health and safety protocols and players' pay. ESPN reported Tuesday that as part of the deal, "players would receive the full prorated share of their salaries — about 37 percent of their full-season salaries and around $1.5 billion total."

"Players would not receive forgiveness on the $170 million salary advance they received as part of the March agreement and would get no money from the postseason," ESPN's report said.

The MLB said in its press release Tuesday that "the MLB Players Association has accepted the health and safety protocols that will guide MLB’s return to play and that players will be able to report for training by July 1."

"The health and safety of players and employees will remain MLB’s foremost priorities in its return to play," the release said. "MLB is working with a variety of public health experts, infectious disease specialists and technology providers on a comprehensive approach that aims to facilitate a safe return."

The MLBPA did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

News of the league's return comes as dozens of MLB players and staff have recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Last Friday, several players and staff on the Philadelphia Phillies tested positive after assembling at the team's training facilities in Florida, the team confirmed to PEOPLE. As many as 40 players and staff members across the league have tested positive in the last week, USA Today reported Sunday.

On Monday, the MLB said in a statement that it had asked the player's association to answer  by 5 p.m. ET that day whether players could report to training camp by July 1, and whether the union "will agree on the Operating Manual which contains the health and safety protocols necessary to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason," CNN reported.

The MLBPA said in a statement on Monday that its executive board "met multiple times in recent days to assess the status of our efforts to resume the 2020 season."

"Earlier this evening, the full Board reaffirmed the players' eagerness to return to work as soon and as safely as possible. To that end we anticipate finalizing a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols with Major League Baseball in coming days, and we await word from the league on the resumption of spring training camps and a proposed 2020 schedule."

"While we had hoped to reach a revised back to work agreement with the league, the Players remain fully committed to proceeding under our current agreement and getting back on the field for the fans, for the game, and for each other," the statement concluded.

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