6:54pm: It now appears there will be one big change in 2017: MLB will switch to a dugout signal for intentional walks, team and union sources informed Howard Bryant of ESPN The Magazine (Twitter link).
6:12pm: Clark has responded to Manfred’s comments (via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal):
“Unless your definition of ’cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
4:01pm: Major League Baseball proposed some notable rule changes to the MLBPA earlier this month, but none of those will take effect in 2017, commissioner Rob Manfred announced Tuesday. A frustrated Manfred explained to various reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, that the union’s “lack of cooperation” will prevent the adjustments from coming to fruition this year (Twitter link).
Manfred, who cited the need to improve “pace and action” of games, revealed that the league and the union discussed implementing a pitch clock, introducing automatic intentional walks, changing the strike zone and cutting down on mound visits (Twitter link via Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan). Placing a runner on second base during major league games which go to extra innings didn’t come up, and nor will it, as Manfred said that rule’s only use will be in “developmental leagues” (Twitter link via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register).
While it will be business as usual with big league rules this year, that won’t be the case in 2018. The collective bargaining agreement enables owners to make changes unilaterally, and Manfred indicated that they will next year (Twitter link via Shaikin). Even though the owners and the union agreed to a new CBA back in December, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said it’s not yet official. However, the sides are “in the process” of finalizing it and “everything has been agreed to with respect to the big moving pieces” (via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald).
After touching on potential rule changes, Manfred mentioned a desire for each franchise to have a “major league-quality stadium” and opined that the Diamondbacks’ 19-year-old facility, Chase Field, “needs work” (via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, on Twitter).
“It’s absolutely clear from the material that has been made available to me there are serious maintenance needs that need to be met with respect to the stadium,” he continued. “Unfortunately, they have not been able to reach a consensual agreement on how that was going to happen.”
The Diamondbacks’ goal to land a new stadium came to the fore nearly a year ago, and the team brought a lawsuit against Maricopa County, which owns Chase Field, last month. While there’s no indication the D-backs plan to leave Arizona, Manfred did note that the league might eventually consider placing a team in Las Vegas, saying that “it could be a viable market” (Twitter link via Passan). He also brushed off the notion that the city’s status as the gambling capital of the United States would be a deterrent.