ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Don’t look for a National League designated hitter this year or for new anti-tanking rules in June’s amateur draft.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday that management is focused on pace-of-game changes for 2019 and bolder ideas proposed by the players’ association are too complex to be put in place for this season.
Speaking Friday after an owners’ meeting, Manfred felt encouraged the union responded to management’s proposal for a pitch clock and a three-batter minimum for a relief pitcher unless an inning ends.
“Some of these items need to be part of broader discussions that certainly will continue after opening day, and I hope we can focus on some of the issues that need to get resolved quickly in the interim,” Manfred said.
Baseball is in its third year of a five-year labor deal, one in which the free-agent market has slowed considerably — even with premier players available such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Management would discuss larger changes as part of a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement extending beyond December 2021.
After the 2017 and 2018 seasons, players rebuffed management’s proposal for a pitch clock designed to speed to the pace of play. Management has the right to implement a clock, but Manfred has been reluctant to make on-field changes without players’ agreement.