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What will MLB look like in future? Rob Manfred, Tony Clark ready to talk about it

By Paul Hoynes • Jul 12, 2017 at 8:30 PM

MIAMI — Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about it, but not too deeply. He sees no reason to kick the bees nest, but he's on record as saying he's not happy with how long it's taking to play big-league games this season.

Next season Manfred has the right to unilaterally implement the changes he championed at the start of the 2017 season. The players, however, pushed back and most of the changes were not implemented this year.

When asked what his course of action might be in 2018, depending on how the new rules might affect pitchers and hitters, Manfred told members of the Baseball Writers Association on Tuesday, "I'm hopeful that the players association recognizes that something has changed in the game. That we're not out to alter any individual player's career. It's time for us to think together on what the game looks like on the field.

"If there is any one thing that is true about my career in baseball is that I'm a deal guy at heart. I'd much rather have an agreement. That is particularly true that comes with changes that affect the play of the game on the field because only the players are in between those lines."

Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, also addressed the BBWAA. He said he's willing to talk to Manfred to see if they can reach agreement on certain "pace of play' issues. Some of MLB's proposals before the start of this season included a 20-second pitch clock, altering the strike zone, limiting visits to the mound by catchers and perhaps limiting the number of relievers used in a game.

"It's always a delicate balance that you try strike, improving the game while not changing it so much that even the current baseball fans don't recognize it," said Clark. "I follow that by saying we're more than willing, and have been willing, to talk about this."

Manfred said baseball, as a game, has been reluctant to change how it is played on the field.

"As a general proposition, not getting into any specific proposal," said Manfred, "I think other sports have been more aggressive as to managing what's going on, on the field in terms of what their game looks like than we have been.

"And I'm certainly open to the idea that we too should take a more aggressive posture."

Future All-Star Games: The Nationals will host the 2018 All-Star game followed by the Indians in 2019. MLB is still taking bids on the games after that with the Cubs and Dodgers among the candidates.

Manfred made it sound like those announcements could be coming soon. "I'll probably do three (cities) at once," he said.

Uniform posting: Manfred and Clark are hoping that a uniform posting system can be developed to bring foreign-born players to MLB. Now the posting system differs from one country to another.

"What we would like to do with the posting system, not with just Japan, but with Korea and Cuba, is get to a consistent approach with respect to foreign professional players coming to Major League Baseball," said Manfred.

Said Clark, "Having continuity on how to bring players in from the international community is something we've discussed with Major League Baseball."

Manfred said he also wants to take a consistent approach to promoting baseball in those countries and guard against MLB taking too many of their players.

"We want to make sure that clubs in other countries that have reserve rights to those players are fairly compensated for giving up those reserve rights," he said. "And that players, who want to play Major League Baseball, should have a meaningful opportunity at a realistic point in their careers to play in the United States."

10-day DL: Under the basic agreement, this is the first year where the 15-day disabled list has been reduced to 10 days.

Manfred feels some teams have taken advantage of it.

"I don't like some of the activity that is going on in terms of the 10-day DL and we're having conversations about it internally," said Manfred.

Clark said the MLBPA has had no problem with how the 10-day DL is being used.

"I don't know if anything has happened that we didn't anticipate," said Clark. "In a lot of ways having the flexibility of the 10-day DL has benefited the players. How one team uses it as opposed to another is something we watch."

Marlins for sale: Manfred expects to get a better handle on when the Marlins will be sold in the near future. Three groups are bidding for the team including Jeb Bush and Tagg Romney, a group fronted by former Yankee Derek Jeter and Jorge Mas.

"The fact of the matter is we have three viable bidding groups that are essentially in the same price range," said Manfred. "All three groups are in the process of doing their research work and the financial structuring. When that process is complete, the Marlins will pick a winning bidder. "

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