Pace-of-play changes are on their way.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced Thursday during his spring media conference that specific pace-of-play rule changes will be announced before exhibition games get underway next week "one way or another," according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
"We have done extensive research in this area," Manfred elaborated, per the Tampa Bay Times' Steve Contorno. "We have shared this research with (the Players Assoctaion). ... The No. 1 issue that our fans identify (with) respect to our great game is length of the game and the pace of the game."
The commissioner added that the changes will be implemented regardless of whether an agreement is reached with the union, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
Pace of play, an issue that Manfred has been trying to fix since becoming commissioner in 2015, has turned into arguably the offseason's most controversial talking point. Possibilities that have been examined include pitch clocks and limiting mound visits.
Though Manfred and the league have been negotiating with players, he has the right to unilaterally enforce new pace-of-play rules at any time without the MLBPA's approval.
The average time of an MLB game in 2017 was three hours and five minutes, representing nearly a four-minute spike from 2016. Postseason contests averaged nearly 3.5 hours in length.