Major League Baseball announced on Monday that beginning in the 2018 season, teams will be limited to six non-pitching-change mound visits per nine-inning game. In extra-inning games, teams will receive one additional non-pitching-change mound visit per inning.
Major League Baseball will also reduce between-innings down time to 2:05 during locally televised regular season games, 2:25 during nationally televised regular season games and 2:55 during tiebreaker and postseason contests. There will be no pitch clock implemented for the 2018 season.
Under the new rules, mound visits are defined as: “a manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher” and “a player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player … regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit.”
In addition to visits that result in a pitching change, there are notable exceptions to the mound visit rules as well. Communication between players and pitchers which “occur between batters in the normal course of play and do not require either the position player(s) or the pitcher to relocate” are still permitted, as are visits from position players to clean their spikes in rainy conditions, injury-related visits and visits following the announcement of an offensive substitution.
Once all six visits have been used, catchers may appeal to the umpires to make an additional mound visit in the instance of a cross-up between signs. Cross-up visits prior to the limit being reached will still count against the six-visit limit.
Punishment for violation of these rules will be subject to commissioner discretion: “Players who consistently or flagrantly violate the time limits will be subject to progressive discipline for just cause by the Office of the Commissioner pursuant to Article XI(C) of the Basic Agreement.”
The instant replay system is also changing in 2018. Teams’ video review rooms will now receive “direct slow motion camera angles” for the 2018 season, and phone lines “connecting the video review rooms and the dugout” will be installed and monitored so that they are not used for the purposes of sign stealing.
“I am pleased that we were able to reach an understanding with the Players Association to take concrete steps to address pace of play with the cooperation of players,” said Rob Manfred in announcing the changes. “My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions.”