Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) agreed on the health and safety protocols and enabled commissioner Rob Manfred to finalize a 60-game schedule for the 2020 season in late June. If all things go to plan, we are about three weeks away from regular season baseball.
While there's still ample time for something to go wrong -- like, say, the novel coronavirus forcing the league to again reconsider the logistics and wisdom of playing during a pandemic -- we've decided to outline some of the expected key dates and timeframes of the forthcoming schedule.
While we're still waiting for the full schedule, we do know a handful of key dates for the abbreviated 2020 MLB calendar.
Start of 'spring' training: July 1
In accordance with the agreement between the MLBPA and MLB, players are expected to report to their camps by July 1. Presumably there will be exceptions made for international players, who might have their travel delayed by COVID-19. The exhibition season, whatever form it takes, will likely then begin sooner than later, with the regular season slated to begin about three weeks after the report date.
Opening Day: July 23 or 24
Usually, fans are thinking about the trade deadline the last week of July. This year, it looks like late July will instead feature Opening Day. The league says it will start the season on July 23 or 24. July 23 is a Thursday, so, in theory, the league could schedule a marquee game or two that night before launching into a full slate that weekend. What about the trade deadline? We're glad you asked.
Trade deadline: Aug. 31
One rumor out there is that the trade deadline will be moved back a month, to Aug. 31, or roughly to the midpoint of the season. Fair enough.
End of regular season: Likely Sept. 27
The end of the regular season is expected to come during September's final days. That way the league can avoid playing regular season into October, pushing back the postseason and opening up the possibility of the World Series (or other tournament games) being canceled due to another wave of COVID-19.
End of postseason: Likely before Nov. 1
As with the end of the regular season, MLB has been reluctant to run the year too deep into the fall for fear that it won't be completed. Even before having training resumes, MLB reportedly has had numerous positive COVID-19 cases among players and staff in the last week.