Major League Baseball and the Players Association (MLBPA) continue to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) but the two sides remain far apart more than three months since the lockout began in December.
Some potential rule changes have already been floated around as part of a new CBA, including implementing a pitch clock, larger bases, restricting defensive shifts, an expanded postseason, universal designated hitter, a Draft lottery and an automated strike zone.
The MLBPA is reportedly open to all those changes, except for the robotic strike zone, and the two sides have already agreed to implement the universal DH and the Draft lottery.
While the union is on board with most new rules, not all the players are, including Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Blake Treinen, who is very much against the pitch clock, per Bob Nightengale:
Blake Treinen also made it clear that he’s vehemently against the pitch clock, ‘I don’t think we need it.’
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 8, 2022
Treinen, who has pitched at the Major League level since 2014 and has become one of the game’s top relievers, is likely against any changes that could throw off his routine or make him do anything different than he is used to, like many pitchers would be.
MLB first noted their intention for these rule changes during the final two days of negotiations in February.
MLB has already experimented with 15-second pitch timers in the Minors and Arizona Fall League, and commissioner Rob Manfred recently said he was encouraged by the results.
The pitch clock was exclusive to Low-A West games this past season and in 316 nine-inning games with it being used, the average time of each game was 2 hours and 41 minutes.
By comparison, in the 91 games played without a pitch clock, the average time of each game was 3 hours and 2 minutes.
MLB previously tried to implement a 20-second pitch clock in 2019 and it was tested in Spring Training, but the league scrapped it until at least 2022 in an agreement with the MLBPA.
Clayton Kershaw previously expressed his opposition to the pitch clock during MLB’s first test of it in 2019 and said he just plans to ignore it unless it becomes a problem.
MLB, MLBPA have disagreements over expanded postseason format
Although the league and union seem to agree on an expanded postseason, one of the primary sticking points for the two sides is the format of it.
For many seasons now the MLB playoffs have comprised of 10 teams, which includes a pair of Wild Card Games featuring two clubs from each league. The league and union agreed to a 16-team expanded postseason in 2020 to help offset the impact of a shortened regular season.
During the nine consecutive days of CBA negotiations at Roger Dean Stadium, it appeared a tentative agreement had been reached to go with the union’s preference for a 12-team playoff. However, with talks stalling, it was reported the MLBPA could be open to 14 teams if other gains were made with respect to the luxury tax threshold and pre-arbitration bonus pool.
While that remains plausible, it does appear MLB will relent and agree to 12 teams for an expanded posteason.
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