MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) have been in the thick of daily meetings this week at Roger Dean Stadium as the deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) fast approaches on Monday, Feb. 28.
The sides remain far apart on several key issues, including total dollars for a pre-arbitration bonus pool, minimum starting salary, percentage of players who would qualify for Super Two status, and more.
One week after delaying the start of Spring Training games, MLB did so again on Friday. Cactus League and Grapefruit League games now won’t be played until Tuesday, March 8, at the earliest.
While the sides are attempting to overcome several hurdles during negotiations, MLB has also raised the possibility of introducing rule changes — in particular a pitch clock — at a faster rate than under the prior CBA, according to Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
During conversations with player leadership in Florida this week, Major League Baseball has asked for a shortened period of time to implement on-field changes it desires, specifically mentioning a pitch clock, people briefed on the conversations told The Athletic.
Rule changes being part of CBA meetings is a change in strategy by the league from last month.
Under the 2017-21 CBA, the Players Association granted MLB commissioner Rob Manfred the authority to unilaterally implement rule changes one year after they were first proposed to the union. They otherwise could be put into place upon consent from the union.
Manfred didn’t take such action, but MLB did use the Minors, Atlantic League and Arizona Fall League last year to test a wide range of new rules.
Potential MLB rule changes
Along with a pitch clock, MLB is believed to have interest in limiting the number pickoff attempts permitted per plate appearance, ban on defensive shifts, an automated strike zone and increasing the size of bases.
Late last year Manfred said he was pleased with the results of using a pitch clock in the Arizona Fall League and specifically noted the time of game and pace of play were both areas MLB could stand to improve on as well.
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