Report: MLB, MLBPA discussing major rule changes, including pitch clock and NL DH

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

Nearly 50 years after the American League implemented the designated hitter, the National League could follow suit as Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association consider widespread rule changes that could alter the sport dramatically.

According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the two sides discussed a variety of measures at a meeting in January, including the implementation of a 20-second pitch clock, requiring that pitchers face a minimum of three batters, and a universal DH.

The union is pushing for the implementation of a universal DH in 2019, according to Passan. The two sides also discussed expanding rosters to 26, creating 30 additional Major League jobs.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has the authority to unilaterally implement a 20-second pitch clock for the 2019 season, a move many players oppose. Manfred has not signaled whether or not he intends to do so, and the two sides reportedly discussed the possibility of having a clock only when the bases are empty.

Oct 17, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (8) and relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) meet at the mound during the eighth inning against the Houston Astros in game four of the 2018 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

MLB proposed a three-batter minimum for pitchers entering a game as another pace of play initiative, a suggestion the Players Association did not strongly oppose, according to Passan. Teams would be able to make pitching changes after an inning is over even if the new pitcher did not face three batters.

Passan also reported the two sides discussed other smaller changes, such as implementing one trading deadline before the All-Star Break, alterations to the draft in an attempt to incentivize winning, changes to the Major League and Minor League service time policies, and lowering the mound.

Pitchers and catchers across baseball are scheduled to report to spring training next week. The Red Sox will report on February 13.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub's own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.