MLB Lockout Rumors: Pitch Clock, Banning Defensive Shifts & Larger Bases Were Part Of Final CBA Offer

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As MLB continued to have talks with the MLBPA regarding the lockout and core economics, collective bargaining agreement negotiations also expanded to include implementing potential rule changes.

It is no secret MLB has made an effort over the past few seasons to improve pace of play in an attempt to increase viewership and overall popularity of the game. New rules, including a pitch clock, automatic runner on second base for extra innings, and limitations on mound visits are among what’s been implemented on the Minor League level or in the Majors.

While none of those specifically are helping to increase attendance and viewership, MLB persists.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the league pushed for a pitch timer, banning defensive shifts, and changing to larger bases during the final days of CBA negotiations before talks stalled at the deadline:

MLB wanted to implement a pitch clock, ban shifts and have larger bases for the 2023 season during the last two days of talks.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 1, 2022

While the financials of a prospective CBA are arguably the most important piece to the puzzle, rule changes represent a strong desire from MLB that may have to be implemented in a new agreement.

If the Union is able to meet these demands and in return, receive some of their own, baseball could be returning quicker than the ominous feeling around the 2022 season suggests.

Pitch timers have already been experimented with across multiple levels, and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently said he was encouraged by the results.

Banning defensive shifts is also a polarizing topic as it would drastically impact the way analytical front offices and clubhouses would approach the game. Larger bases are an odd suggestion, but could work for preventing injuries in the long-run.

MLB looking to reduce time for implementing new rules

As previously mentioned, the MLBPA would have to agree for rule changes to be part of a CBA. Obviously there is some bargaining and compromise to be shown from both sides, but it is understandable for the union to want more time to adjust to the new rules being introduced.

MLB reportedly is attempting to change from one year of notice being required to just 45 days before Manfred would have the authority to unilaterally implement a new rule.

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