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Volume 24 No. 114
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Sources: MLB Players Engaged In Discussions On Pace Of Play Ahead Of Spring Training

Spring Training is just over a month away, and MLBers are currently "engaged in ongoing discussions on pace of play," according to sources cited by Ken Rosenthal of THE ATHLETIC. Their leverage "would appear to be minimal," as the CBA empowers MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to "implement new rules provided he gives the union a year’s notice." If enough players "oppose the changes, they could absolve themselves of responsibility and allow Manfred to force the issue by introducing the two key elements of MLB’s plan: a 20-second pitch clock and reduction in mound visits." The onus then would be on Manfred to "deal with any public fallout and unintended consequences the new rules might trigger." The negotiations are playing out during a "tense moment in baseball’s labor-management relations." The two sides last offseason "reached agreement on a CBA that will assure labor peace" through '21, but with less than a month before pitchers and catchers report, the free-agent market "remains flooded." Many free agents "likely will need to accept deals that fall below their expectations, and ultimately might fault both the union and MLB for the financial provisions in the CBA." Manfred repeatedly has "made clear that he will introduce a pitch clock" for the '18 season whether the players "consent to it or not." Sources said that the owners are "strongly in favor of the changes and would not allow Manfred to relent even if he became reluctant to proceed without the union’s cooperation" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/16).