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MLB approves pitch clock, shift bans for 2023

Rich Schultz / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Significant rule changes are coming to Major League Baseball.

MLB's competition committee approved several changes for the 2023 season in a vote Friday, including a pitch clock, defensive shift bans, and larger bases.

The vote among the competition committee wasn't unanimous, with players voting against pitch clocks and banning the shift, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan. Having larger bases was reportedly unanimous.

The changes had been recommended by the 11-person committee, which was formed earlier this year as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. The committee consists of six members appointed by MLB, four members of the players' association, and one umpire.

Perhaps the most notable change involves the implementation of a pitch clock, which has been tested in the minor leagues. Under the new rule, pitchers have 20 seconds to begin their throwing motion with runners on base and 15 seconds if the bases are empty. Automatic balls will be called if pitchers violate the clock, while batters get an automatic strike if they take too long. Pitchers are also limited to two pickoff attempts or step-offs per plate appearance. The limit resets if a runner or runners advance.

Defensive shifts are going to be severely restricted starting next year. All teams will need to have a minimum of four players - excluding the pitcher and catcher - with both their feet on the infield dirt, while two of those fielders must be positioned on either side of second base. Infielders will be designated by teams as playing on either the left or right side of the field and can't switch sides unless there's a substitution.

Finally, the league will increase the size of each base from 15 square inches to 18, with home plate unchanged.

Many of the changes are a part of MLB's push to improve the pace of play and speed up games. The shift restrictions are an attempt to try and increase offense and balls in play, while the bases are being increased in size primarily to give players more room to operate and avoid collisions.

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