Major League Baseball's players' union rejected a revised proposal from commissioner Rob Manfred regarding new rules to improve the game's pace of play, sources told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.
Manfred could still unilaterally implement a proposal that would include a 20-second pitch clock and shortened trips to the mound before the 2018 season, but he reportedly remains hopeful the two sides can come to an agreement.
Players do not appear to be interested in the inclusion of a pitch clock and are "unified" on the issue, a player involved in the discussions told Rosenthal. While players reportedly aren't opposed to improvements to the pace of play, they are concerned that speeding up the game could increase the risk of injury and push away fans who want to maintain the traditional ways of playing the sport.
The likelihood of the unilateral implementation of new rules prior to the 2018 season has increased, according to a source of ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, who echoes the reluctance and player concerns reported by Rosenthal.
"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players,'' Manfred said during owners meetings in November, according to Crasnick. "But if we can't get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.''
Talks between the two sides haven't yielded any progress throughout the past year, Crasnick adds.
MLB has been using timers at minor-league ballparks with success since 2015, and hopes the usage can reduce the league's average time between pitches, which is currently 22 seconds.
The league also implemented a rule requiring hitters to keep one foot inside the batter's box with some exceptions.
If a pitcher violated the clock rule, a ball would be added to the count. If a batter violated the rule, a strike would be recorded.