Baseball Is Broken (off the field/labor relations etc.)

jon abbey

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It is batshit insane that NL teams are having to make personnel decisions without knowing if there will be a DH in the NL in 2021 or not.
 

soxhop411

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Like why would any O’s fan spend a penny on the O’s Next season when the owners don’t give a crap about winning?
 

EvilEmpire

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How many fans would there be anyway?

Even with a vaccine this winter/spring, I think seating will be limited all next season.
 

allmanbro

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This thread just seems to keep coming back. I've been thinking about this again with the Lindor trade. I agree that it (and the Mookie trade) are bad for baseball, even if they are the right move for their teams. I have been thinking about a suite of changes that might help address this without completely blowing up the current system - I doubt there's any reasonable way to put this in place, but I'm curious what people think the impact of changes like these might be. I think this changes the economics of the situation a ton without actually changing the system itself all that much. (I also think these are good things for the players, and it might help with tanking, competitive balance, and so forth)

1) Reduce the length of control of young players to 4 or 5 years. This makes prospects less valuable compared to FAs, so the economics of the veteran for prospect trade shifts a bit, and it makes tanking a bit less profitable (I think), as does the next one.

2) Raise the MLB minimum salary a LOT - from $570k to $2M or something like that. Maybe $3M - I mean a lot. The goal here is to reduce the mismatch between salaries of prearb/arb players and FAs. I think this would do that in both directions - it brings the lowest salaries up, but I think it also reduces salaries of FAs some because teams won't have as much to spend there. This is fine with me, since the average lifetime earnings of the players can still increase. I figure the arb system could remain in place for players in years 3-5 (for example), but adjust the actual arb salaries to match this new distribution.

3) Institute a soft salary floor, and maybe raise the soft cap a bit. The floor can operate a lot like the luxury tax cap. I don't think it needs to be a hard floor, my strategy here is mostly to mess with the incentive structure. This should be notably above the minimum salary: so if that goes to $2M/player on the 25 man, the lowest you can have for the team is $50M - in which case the floor should be something like $70M. I think you also have to raise the cap then, which seems fine with me (although the incentives in point 5 below might mean you can de facto increase the cap without actually changing it much). You may have to increase minor league salaries too, to prevent some weird roster-shuffling loophole I am not clever enough to think of.

4) Make revenue sharing payments come in the form of payroll subsidies. Instead of just cutting a check, calculate "payroll AAV - 100M (whatever the floor is)", and subsidize that payroll above minimum (PAM) by an amount that scales with revenue. For example, the lowest revenue team gets 50% subsidy on PAM, and that decreases as you go up the ladder of team revenues. I think you probably need to increase overall revenue sharing too. (I suppose this doesn't rule out that you ALSO just cut a check, and/or give a revenue sharing bonus based on winning percentage).

5) Incentivize signing players you have. For example, say that contracts with players who have been on your team for at least 5 years of service time (or 4 years depending on what you do in point 1) are counted differently in various calculations (maybe also include players that made their debut on your team - or have incentives for both longevity and debut). So, for example, in players that qualify here, maybe that 50% revenue sharing subsidy can become 75% to help low revenue teams keep players. On the other end, say qualifying player salaries only count at 80% towards the salary cap. That gets both low and high revenue teams, which might leave mid-market teams behind, but I think that can be figured out. Note that this puts pressure that increases FA salaries, working against point 2 - but that's why I think the raise in minimum salary needs to be huge. (I also wonder about the fact that this means, for example, the back half of a 10 year contract is subsidized - maybe that's fine, or maybe you put a 5 year limit on any contract? I don't know).


The actual numbers are made up, they can be anything, and I was purposefully a bit aggressive. As I say, I like this as mostly retaining the current system, and I also prefer it to nonguaranteed contracts. I also think a system like this would have benefits of being not all that complicated, in the grand scheme (the details may be complicated, but the idea that homegrown players are subsidized is more intuitive than trade exemptions, or calculations of cap hits from players no longer on the team based on what percentage was guaranteed or not, like in NBA/NFL).

Edit: Actually, the MLB minimum salary only applies to the 25 man, not the 40 man roster, so adjusted the numbers in point 3 accordingly.
 
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nattysez

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Here's a big focus of the next CBA:

The #Yankees have made every decision with staying under $210M CBT threshold. Yet, unless #Dodgers or #Mets sign Bauer (a possibility) or #RedSox keep making incremental signs, the NYY will still have MLB’s highest payroll. It is not a threshold. It is pretty much a salary cap.
The PA has a lot on its hands now and heading into 2022 but in lieu of dismantling the CBT altogether, they *have* to scale it to revenues. The explosion of revenues league-wide has left the growth of the CBT in the dust and if teams are going to treat it like a cap, well...
View: https://twitter.com/cdgoldstein/status/1353771940385861632
 

santadevil

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Another solid video from Foolish Baseball, with a lot of the suggestions from this thread put in there

View: https://youtu.be/uh_F8WtrDCo


I think the idea to reduce the ticket cost, to very low, or free, is actually a good one. Keeps more people in the stands and also keeps many other people employed throughout the stadium
 

jon abbey

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Bumping because somehow not being able to agree on keeping the universal DH even though both sides want it bodes really really badly for us seeing any MLB in 2022 until maybe July.
 

sean1562

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View: https://twitter.com/alexshultz/status/1417212806047412224


Honestly seems like for any high school player drafted after like the 6th round, it makes more financial sense to just go to college. Their signing bonuses would be taxed as income in the year they get them right? If they spend 5/6 years in the minors and never hit the majors, that signing bonus is long gone by the time the dream dies. Especially with new NCAA rules, at larger universities with good baseball programs, you could probably get some booster to throw you enough cash to at least eat food that isn't pasta/rice/McDonalds.
 

Ale Xander

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View: https://twitter.com/alexshultz/status/1417212806047412224


Honestly seems like for any high school player drafted after like the 6th round, it makes more financial sense to just go to college. Their signing bonuses would be taxed as income in the year they get them right? If they spend 5/6 years in the minors and never hit the majors, that signing bonus is long gone by the time the dream dies. Especially with new NCAA rules, at larger universities with good baseball programs, you could probably get some booster to throw you enough cash to at least eat food that isn't pasta/rice/McDonalds.
Scholarships pay for board. Most schools have pretty good dining options for students. Although IIRC, baseball ranks pretty low on percentage of athletes that have scholarships, compared to other sports. But if you're good enough to potentially have a future MLB career, you're probably good enough to get a scholarship.
 

jon abbey

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Although neither of those posts should be in this thread.
 
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Sad Sam Jones

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Having owners who don't care about the onfield product and the best interests of their fanbase is as old as the game itself.
 

jon abbey

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Now that the CBA is settled and MLB/MLBPA contemplate rule changes in between CBAs, one change that I think would make sense all around is to allow teams to protect 5 younger players in addition to their 40 man roster.

Nothing would change for these players except they couldn't be taken in the rule 5 draft, rewarding the teams for investing money and time and energy into developing players and keeping the players in a system they're already comfortable with and where the team obviously believes in them to an extent (by placing them on this list). The rule could maybe be that this group is selected every November and cannot be added to the actual 40 man/used in MLB games until the following November. Under the current system, international players often have to be protected years before they are actually ready to contribute. This rule change would theoretically prompt every team to invest more in signing and developing their own prospects, it seems to me like it would be good for both players and management.
 

Max Power

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Now that the CBA is settled and MLB/MLBPA contemplate rule changes in between CBAs, one change that I think would make sense all around is to allow teams to protect 5 younger players in addition to their 40 man roster.

Nothing would change for these players except they couldn't be taken in the rule 5 draft, rewarding the teams for investing money and time and energy into developing players and keeping the players in a system they're already comfortable with and where the team obviously believes in them to an extent (by placing them on this list). The rule could maybe be that this group is selected every November and cannot be added to the actual 40 man/used in MLB games until the following November. Under the current system, international players often have to be protected years before they are actually ready to contribute. This rule change would theoretically prompt every team to invest more in signing and developing their own prospects, it seems to me like it would be good for both players and management.
Are you going to pay those 5 guys MLB minimum to be put on a restricted list for a year? Because this seems like a much worse deal for the players than when some hit the rule 5 lottery and pull a MLB salary for an entire year as the 26th guy on the roster.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Now that the CBA is settled and MLB/MLBPA contemplate rule changes in between CBAs, one change that I think would make sense all around is to allow teams to protect 5 younger players in addition to their 40 man roster.

Nothing would change for these players except they couldn't be taken in the rule 5 draft, rewarding the teams for investing money and time and energy into developing players and keeping the players in a system they're already comfortable with and where the team obviously believes in them to an extent (by placing them on this list). The rule could maybe be that this group is selected every November and cannot be added to the actual 40 man/used in MLB games until the following November. Under the current system, international players often have to be protected years before they are actually ready to contribute. This rule change would theoretically prompt every team to invest more in signing and developing their own prospects, it seems to me like it would be good for both players and management.
Interesting idea but I guess I'm not seeing how this would help players. The Rule 5 draft ostensibly exists to prevent teams from stashing players in the minor leagues or to give minor leaguers whose organizational path to the major leagues is blocked a chance to catch on with some other team and hopefully make it to the majors.

Why would your proposed change help this?

As a side note, I had no idea that Roberto Clemente was a Rule 5 draft pick. https://www.mlb.com/news/complete-history-of-the-mlb-rule-5-draft-c210225288
 

jon abbey

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Are you going to pay those 5 guys MLB minimum to be put on a restricted list for a year? Because this seems like a much worse deal for the players than when some hit the rule 5 lottery and pull a MLB salary for an entire year as the 26th guy on the roster.
Nope, same salary. I would argue that the scenario you describe ends up hurting as many players (Luis Torrens comes to mind) as it does helps them, but more importantly it's hard to change a rule without hurting anyone. If some guys who never should have been on MLB teams anyway on pure merit don't end up making it, it's hard for me to be too upset. To me it's similar to the catchers who will end up getting hurt once automated strike zones are eventually adopted and pitch framing is no longer a 'skill', it's a glitch in the system that shouldn't be there.
 

jon abbey

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The Rule 5 draft ostensibly exists to prevent teams from stashing players in the minor leagues or to give minor leaguers whose organizational path to the major leagues is blocked a chance to catch on with some other team and hopefully make it to the majors.
Right, but what it ends up being now is mostly guys forced into MLB jobs before they're ready. There would still be a rule 5 draft, but it wouldn't be younger guys over their heads, it would be guys like Matt Krook who genuinely are blocked and are already 27. Maybe there could be an age ceiling on the 5 man list, 22 or 23?
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Right, but what it ends up being now is mostly guys forced into MLB jobs before they're ready. There would still be a rule 5 draft, but it wouldn't be younger guys over their heads, it would be guys like Matt Krook who genuinely are blocked and are already 27. Maybe there could be an age ceiling on the 5 man list, 22 or 23?
OK, I see, thanks for explaining. I can see an age minimum on the Rule 5 draft that might address your issue.

edit: deleted something that didn't make sense.
 

jon abbey

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For instance, a player like Jeisson Rosario should still be on the Red Sox (or maybe even the Padres) and the only reason he isn't is because of the 40 man rules. Yoan Aybar has been released twice in the past 10 days and picked up both times, and it's not because the new team thinks he is ready for MLB or wants to give him a chance, it's because they think maybe they have room to stash him at the back of their 40 man. That isn't good for the player's development IMO.

Teams will always play games at the fringes of their roster, but my proposal would free up 40 man spots from guys who are solely being protected because of their eventual potential a few years down the road.
 

simplicio

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Agree that an age ceiling would be necessary to keep players from getting robbed of their prime years.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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I agree that the Rule 5 qualifications at least need some adjustments. I'm greatly annoyed Cleveland had to add Jose Tena and Jhonkensy Noel to the 40-man roster last fall not because of development arc at all, but only for the sake of protecting them from the Rule 5 draft, which would almost certainly stunt the development of two young kids who are still multiple years away from being MLB ready, but have exciting potential – and then it turned out to be unnecessary since the draft was canceled anyway.

MLB should learn from the past and how the bonus baby system of the 1950/60s ruined a number of careers. These aren't players being held back or blocked in a system in any way, which is (or was) the purpose of the Rule 5 draft. They're 20-year-olds playing Hi-A ball (Tena was promoted to AA for the playoffs, Noel only reached Hi-A the last month of the season). Starting the clock on prospects at that age and level really isn't benefiting them and takes away the opportunity for them to bounce back if they have a year where they struggle to develop. I'm just glad they didn't also end up losing a year of development to a lockout.
 

jon abbey

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Yes, that’s my point exactly, it’s really not good for anyone and should be fixed.
 

DJnVa

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Home Run Derby X

This will bring the kids back!! 4 teams, including a "Red Sox" team led by "Legend" Jonny Gomes (better than the Cubs "legend" Geovany Soto) will play some modified version of HR Derby with additional things like target, streaks, and "ballpark culture and music".

It might actually be interesting to watch, I used to love the old b&w HR derby shows.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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Home Run Derby X

This will bring the kids back!! 4 teams, including a "Red Sox" team led by "Legend" Jonny Gomes (better than the Cubs "legend" Geovany Soto) will play some modified version of HR Derby with additional things like target, streaks, and "ballpark culture and music".

It might actually be interesting to watch, I used to love the old b&w HR derby shows.
To be fair, Soto's season high in homers (23) beats Gomes' season high (21). And Gomes only hit 19 in a season + with Boston. How many Red Sox "non-legends" would you put ahead of Gomes in the "Legend" spot for this contest? Probably the real question is how many have something better to do than this contest? Looking at the 2013 roster I may choose Saltalamacchia ahead of Gomes but would take Gomes just ahead of Middlebrooks.
 

jon abbey

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No, but it's more than a week old, has been posted in at least one other thread, and is so dumb it's not worth discussing (IMO obv).
 

Ale Xander

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If I were czar of MLB, I would extend the MLB EI free preview time period through to when the last team has its home opener.
I can’t be the only one more interested in today’s games than yesterday’s

Would be a good hook for more people. wouldn’t work on me, but would work on a lot of people.
 

dhappy42

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If I were czar of MLB, I would extend the MLB EI free preview time period through to when the last team has its home opener.
I can’t be the only one more interested in today’s games than yesterday’s

Would be a good hook for more people. wouldn’t work on me, but would work on a lot of people.
The obvious problem with MLB TV is that it carries all the games except the one most people most want to watch: their home-market team.
 

Max Power

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ESPN wants you to know Rob Manfred doesn't hate baseball, he wants to save it.

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34130915/hate-baseball-wants-save-it
This should probably go in the on the field discussion, but there's a big part in that story about rule changes.

ALMOST BY ACCIDENT, Manfred found an eloquent crusader to help improve the game. In September 2020, Theo Epstein wrote a lengthy letter to Manfred. It was a kind of manifesto outlining Epstein's ideas for rule changes that would transform the game by transporting it, time-machine-like, to its not-so-distant, faster-paced and more fun past. "All change doesn't always lead to something new," Epstein says. "Change can also be restorative in certain ways."

Manfred liked Epstein's letter so much that he hired him as an MLB consultant.

"He doesn't want to be a slave to tradition, and he is determined to modernize the game in an important, effective way," Epstein says. "But he also doesn't want to reinvent the wheel and make change for change's sake and betray the history of the game."

Nearly three decades ago, the average MLB hitter batted .265; today the average hitter bats around .240. The strikeout rate in 1980 was 12.5%; last season it was 23.2%, and this season it stands at 22.2%. Epstein says that through the first half of 2021, the strikeout rate was higher than it was during the careers of fireballers Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens. "It shouldn't be scandalous to try to recreate the equilibrium ... that we all became accustomed to when we fell in love with the game," Epstein says.

The surest way to recreate that equilibrium is the pitch clock, proponents of the rule change say.

A pitch clock would give a pitcher 14 seconds between pitches with no runners on base; 18 or 19 seconds with runners on. There's now an average of 23.8 seconds between pitches. With the help of testing and refining the pitch timer in its minor leagues laboratory, MLB projects a pitch timer would shave an average of 30 minutes off game times, getting close to fans' "ideal" of 2 hours, 30 minutes. Manfred says the pitch clock represents one of the best ways for baseball to better compete in a world of countless entertainment options and ever-shrinking attention spans.

Purists, and some players, hate it. The game's poet laureates, from Angell to Updike, have waxed lyrically about the timelessness of baseball, the only sport without a clock. And scores of high-profile veterans despise the idea. "I think baseball is a beautiful sport with fewer rules," Miller told me. "Something about a clock on a baseball field just doesn't feel right."

Epstein agrees that introducing a pitch clock is "a scary concept ... I didn't love it when I first heard about it 10 years ago."

But the pace-of-play results have seized everyone's attention. In the low-A West league last season, the pitch clock shaved 21 minutes off average game times. Even more striking, the league had the second-highest scoring average in minor league baseball, a seemingly incongruous correlation between shorter games and more scoring, the sweet spot that Manfred seeks. Perhaps even more surprising, players, managers and fans enthusiastically embraced it. An internal 2021 MLB survey shows all the rule changes introduced in the minors had become more popular by season's end -- and none more than the pitch clock.

At an owners meeting in Orlando, MLB executives showed a side-by-side video of minor league and major league games, one with a pitch clock and one without. Owners were flabbergasted by the difference. "I couldn't believe it," says DeWitt, the Cardinals owner. DeWitt and most, if not all, of his fellow owners are so frustrated by the game's plodding pace that they can't wait for the pitch clock to be introduced. "I think some owners wouldn't mind if all games were just seven innings," Manfred says. "That's certainly not high on my agenda."

Another side-by-side video, with Epstein doing the voiceover, compares a two-batter sequence in the minors and majors. Both clips included a three-pitch strikeout and a five-pitch walk. In the big leagues, the sequence was 45 seconds longer. "If you extrapolate that over an entire game, it was 28 minutes longer," Epstein says. "You don't just save time -- pitch-clock games are like games from the '70s and '80s ... There's a great natural rhythm; it's the way the game is supposed to be."

And then in what could be the slogan promoting the pitch clock, Epstein says: "A pitch is not supposed to be a 30-second spectacle."

Video feeds show that fans behind home plate at MLB games are often distracted by their cellphones, says Morgan Sword, MLB's executive vice president of operations and one of Manfred's leading "believers" in the pitch clock's beauty. In the minors, fans appear more focused on the action because with a pitch clock, if you look away for long, you are more likely to miss something. A pitch clock also keeps more fans in their seats deeper into games. "Think about the casual fan. You get to the two-hour mark and you're in the top of the fifth," Sword says. "And you look at your wife and say, 'We're not staying for this whole thing. Why don't we just get out of here?'"

Umpiring reforms are another path to a faster pace.

The average time for video-replay reviews of umpire calls this season is 1 minute, 37 seconds, up 21 seconds from last year. In 2024, Manfred says, the automated ball-strike zone system, or as it's commonly called, "robot umpires," will likely be introduced. One possibility is for the automated system to call every pitch and transmit the balls and strikes to a home plate umpire via an ear piece. Another option is a replay review system of balls and strikes with each manager getting several challenges a game. The system is being tested in the minor leagues and has shaved nine additional minutes off the average game length this season, MLB data shows. "We have an automated strike zone system that works," Manfred says.

He declines to grade the MLB umpires' overall performance this season -- fans are displeased, to put it politely -- and he insists the adaptation of robo-umpires should not be seen as an indictment of their abilities.

The changes Manfred wants appear to be a foregone conclusion. Under the previous CBA, Manfred had the right to unilaterally change the rules one season after giving the union notice. "Mostly under my leadership," he says, "we have been deferential to a fault in terms of trying to make changes in the game," a delay that has aggravated many owners. Now, Manfred has the right to change the rules 45 days after approval of a new competition committee, which will have its first meeting in 2023 -- a formality since the committee is tilted to the owners.

Still, Manfred is seeking wide consensus. He has embarked on a leaguewide campaign to convince the players that the coming changes are what's best for the game. Already, he has visited half of MLB's clubhouses to answer players' questions and try to win support for the rules changes, especially the pitch clock.

Former MLB star Raul Ibanez, MLB's senior vice president of on-field operations, joins Manfred for the clubhouse sessions. "They're the experts on the field, and getting their perspective and feedback is important," Ibanez says. "When players walk out of the meetings, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive." Ibanez refused to discuss how many players have expressed opposition to the pitch clock and other proposed rules changes, though sources say some players are adamantly opposed. It's a challenge for Manfred, in part, because of how some players view him and his motives. "I can't tell you how many times I heard from club people, players, the people that work for us, that the players hate Rob," says Halem, the deputy commissioner. "It's just like how the union has positioned this with the players -- all your problems in life are that guy in New York that doesn't like baseball."

Manfred denies the notion that every rule change is being driven solely by him. "This is not a Rob Manfred crusade in terms of the game," he says. "These are not personal views. These are, you know, research-driven views that any business would have to pay attention to."

As Halem says, Manfred now needs to be a salesman, an evangelist for baseball's future. His campaign will require a mix of diplomacy, persistence and a soft touch. "I think I have tried to be positive about our game," Manfred says. "I think the tough spot is, even if you love something, if you recognize that change needs to come and you talk about that, people take that as negativity. I don't see it that way. I see it from the perspective of, 'I love the institution, I love the game and I want it to be everything it can be.'"
It looks like the pitch clock is definitely coming next season and the automated strike zone in 2024. Manfred has Raul Ibanez coming with him to meet with the players to sell them on the rule changes. Many still hate it, but at least they're giving reasons for the pitch clock in person before making the change. Maybe it will cut down on the whining when it happens.
 

LogansDad

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I've posted so many times about it that I think at this point I'm just redundant, but the pitch clock is awesome. I really, really hope they get it implemented next year.
 

Bertha

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FWIW, the Portland Seadogs send an email after you attend with a survey about the pitch clock. I am hopeful this is at the request of MLB, and also hoping the results are extremely positive in favor of the clock. I gave highest grade on every question.
 

LogansDad

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Do pitchers get a pitch clock warning in MiLB like they do in college baseball?
In our stadium there are two clocks, one behind the hitter and one on the outfield wall. The batter has to be in the box with 9 seconds left and the pitcher needs to be in his windup before 0 (there's a little bit of NFL play clock, but it's honestly probably a little more strict. It's been in place long enough now that I don't think anyone needs warnings anymore.
 

amfox1

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https://theathletic.com/news/mlb-international-draft-counterproposal/Jw1NMChm0iNr/

Major League Baseball presented a counteroffer for an international draft to the Players Association on Friday, sources told The Athletic.

MLB did not increase the amount of bonus pool money from their previous offer of $181 million. The union made an offer last week that called for $260 million. Another financial gap is the maximum signing bonus that can be offered to players who go undrafted, with the owners offering $20,000 and the union asking for $40,000.

An MLB official said their latest offer made several moves in the players' direction, and there are several other issues at play in these negotiations.
The deadline for an agreement is July 25. The owners agreed in the most recent collective bargaining agreement to remove the qualifying offer from major-league free agency if the two sides agree to institute an international draft.
 

jon abbey

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I’m guessing that they will mutually push the deadline to agree on that back a few weeks, the draft is tomorrow-Tues and then the trading deadline is Aug 2, seems like an Aug 15 deadline makes more sense if both sides actually want an agreement (dunno this).