Manfred and MLB hope to push ahead with rule changes

Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Tuesday that there will be no major rule changes for the upcoming season, but several could be in line for 2018—whether or not the players’ association is willing to agree to them. Most of these discussed rule changes are aimed at improving the pace of play, such as adding a pitch clock, limiting mound visits, and changing the strike zone.

Manfred cited a "lack of cooperation from the MLBPA" as the reason that rule changes will not be implemented this season, a claim that MLBPA executive director Tony Clark tried to refute by saying: “Unless your definition of 'cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the Commissioner's office on these issues.”

But Manfred indicated yesterday that the new collective bargaining agreement will allow team owners to make these rule changes unilaterally beginning next year, and it doesn’t sound like they would have any hesitation to do so. (It’s worth noting that although the owners and union agreed to the new CBA back in December, they haven’t finalized it yet.)

Manfred also used his news conference to discuss the possibility of a Las Vegas franchise and his belief that for the 19-year-old Chase Field in Arizona "to be a major league-quality stadium, needs work." Later in the day, news broke of one smaller proposed rule change that could indeed be taking effect next year—switching from four pitches to a dugout signal for intentional walks.

Hosmer: “I never said anything about a 10-year deal”

One day after rumors surfaced that Kansas City believed Eric Hosmer would be seeking a 10-year contract, the first baseman pushed back on the idea. Hosmer told reporters that he’d never mentioned an interest in such a long-term deal, among a few other brief comments on the status of his contract negotiations. Though he’s reportedly speaking with the Royals about the possibility of an extension and will be able to keep those talks going until Opening Day, “he also covets the chance to reach free agency for the first time,” according to Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star.

Hosmer is coming off a down season, with a final .266/.328/.433 slash line making it easy to forget that he hit .324/.382/.547 through the first 60 games of the year before crashing and burning through the rest. That sample of hot-and-cold matches the inconsistency he’s had on a larger scale throughout his career, which would make a long-term investment in the 27-year-old a questionable move.

Nationals looking to trade Norris

After signing Matt Wieters to a two-year deal, the Nationals are now actively looking to trade away Derek Norris, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. The Padres traded Norris to Washington in December in exchange for minor leaguer Pedro Avila in order to replace departing free agent Wilson Ramos. But with Wieters joining backup Jose Lobaton and prospect Pedro Severino, there’s not so much a need for Norris anymore.

While Norris isn’t much to speak of at the plate, he has plenty to offer as a pitch framer. One possibility is a trade with the White Sox, which could make sense for both sides—given the Nationals’ consistent reported interest in David Robertson and the fact that the current catching situation for the White Sox is a combination of Geovany Soto and Omar Narvaez.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
Norris seems like a good buy low candidate for the Sox. He is not that old and was recently a 2-3 win player. He also moves to a park that is friendly to RH power. If it helps grease the skids for the Nationals to pay all of Robertson's salary it makes good sense for the Sox. I'd like to see them get better at catcher and Norris seems like a potential upgrade from Soto. Robertson's contract is not long or expensive relative to market and Sox should not cave in too much since they don't have to trade him. It's called negotiation for a reason and there should be give and take.