Denard Span’s return means the Nationals finally have their projected Opening Day lineup

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Center fielder Denard Span is off the disabled list after missing the past six weeks with a lower back injury and for the first time all season the Nationals have their planned Opening Day starting lineup available for a game.

Here’s the lineup it took 124 games for the Nationals to have together and healthy:

C – Wilson Ramos
1B – Ryan Zimmerman
2B – Anthony Rendon
3B – Yunel Escobar
SS – Ian Desmond
LF – Jayson Werth
CF – Denard Span
RF – Bryce Harper

That’s a pretty good group, which is a big part of why so many preseason projections had the Nationals running away with the NL East. Instead they’re 62-61 and 5.5 games behind the Mets

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.