Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Major League Baseball's Competition Committee met on Tuesday in Manhattan to discuss strategies for proposing changes to the sport, according to league sources.
The discussions, scheduled as part of the owners' meetings this week, came at a time when many dramatic proposals regarding pace of play are in the news (commissioner Rob Manfred addressed some of them in a recent Q and A with The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal).
Two sources familiar with the committee's work indicated that some members were in favor of banning or limiting defensive shifts -- but other sources strongly cautioned that it was far too early to characterize any one issue as front-burner. Essentially, the committee is in discussion mode, batting around various proposals and ideas, and not ready to list which are most important.
The 16-member committee, which was reimagined last year in order to address pressing on-field issues, includes high-profile voices from around the game, like Orioles manager Buck Showalter, Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Indians president Chris Antonetti, Marlins owner Derek Jeter, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Cubs president Theo Epstein, and Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz. Members who will be out of town Tuesday will call in to the meeting.
Pace of play, and the larger issue of ensuring that the game is adequately entertaining and action-packed, has long been a focus of Manfred and this committee. That could ultimately include banning defensive shifts, implementing a pitch clock and an electronic strike zone, limiting pitching changes, and whether analytics have slowed action and need to be counteracted with new rules.
The committee is currently in planning mode, and has not decided which solution to prioritize. By the offseason, it will make recommendations. MLB officials will then engage in discussions with the Players' Association.
Last winter, the dynamic between teams and players grew as toxic as it had been in years, as a slow-moving free agent market left agents and union officials angry. That complicated Manfred's efforts to reach a deal on the pitch clock. Preferring agreement to a power struggle on pace issues, he decided to slow his pursuit of the clock.
But his committee's work is ongoing. This week will bring it one step closer to deciding which game-changing ideas it will propose this fall and winter.