After some consideration, MLB has responded to the Players Associations wide-ranging rules change requests and suggestions, in the two sides’ long-standing discussion about making changes to the game in the coming years to address things like pace-of-play, tanking, player compensation, and more.
Jeff Passan has the details:
News: MLB offers to scuttle pitch clock until at least 2022 in latest bargaining proposal that seeks common ground with MLBPA. Details on that, a three-batter-minimum rule, changing roster sizes and restrictions on position players pitching at ESPN: https://t.co/dQ5lSZem7l
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 27, 2019
So reviled is the pitch clock among the players, apparently, that punting it until at least after the next CBA (2022) is one of the primary carrots being dangled by the league. (Even though there’s already a rule about the timing of delivering pitches, even though minor leaguers have used the pitch clock without issue for years, and even though it is extremely not a big deal if pitchers would just freaking adjust, but whatever.)
From the sound of things, the league is hoping that the players will agree to implement certain changes in 2020 if the league doesn’t implement the pitch clock this year. They will sound familiar, as they’ve been part of these discussions for a while now, and the full details can be seen in Passan’s report:
- Pitchers must face a minimum of three batters (with exceptions for injuries).
- Rosters expand to 26 players, with a maximum of 13 pitchers.
- September rosters limited to 28 players, with a maximum of 14 pitchers.
- Elimination of the waiver trade period in August (noooo!!! but it’s funnnnn!!!), so there would just be the one non-waiver trade deadline at the end of July.
- Mound visits reduced to just four.
- Limitations on how and when position players can pitch.
- A return to a 15-day injured list (up from 10) for pitchers.
- Shorter inning breaks.
- Testing – not implementation – on things like an automated strike zone and mound distance.
You will a whopper missing from that list: the designated hitter in the National League. As position players and pitchers are increasingly treated differently by the rules, it’s harder and harder to suggest with a straight face that starting pitchers in the NL should be required to continue hitting. It’s going to feel more and more like a farce.
But the reason the DH isn’t included is because it would be such a significant potential economic change to the game that the owners no doubt don’t want it touched until the whole CBA is renegotiated after 2021. And it’s for that same reason that you don’t see a lot of the other potential economic issues that concern the players – tanking, service time manipulation, free agency – addressed in these proposals.
Now we wait to see how the union receives these proposals, and whether they’ll consider them without the economic issues being addressed pre-CBA.