Major League Baseball is prepared to scuttle the implementation of a pitch clock until at least 2022 as part of a wide-ranging proposal to the MLB Players Association that would include the ability to implement a three-batter-minimum rule for pitchers and roster-size changes in 2020, sources familiar with the plan told ESPN.
MLB also is proposing limitations on position players' usage as pitchers, getting rid of the waiver trading period, further cutting mound visits and potentially shortening inning breaks, sources said.
The proposal, sent by the league on Tuesday, is the latest in a back-and-forth bargaining session centered around the league's unilateral ability to implement a 20-second pitch clock. Amid tension between the parties stemming from a free-agent market that players have found unsatisfactory, the league, which is testing the pitch clock in spring training games, offered not to revisit the issue until after the 2021 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement as part of a broader set of rules changes.
A number of the proposals from the league dovetail with past suggestions from the union, according to sources, lending credence to the notion that an agreement can be reached with minimal animus.
The most controversial aspect is the three-batter-minimum rule for pitchers. The desire to increase the pace and speed of games could be aided by the rule, which aims to end the carousel of relief pitchers that has become so commonplace late in games. Under the proposal, the league would have the right to implement the rule -- which has a caveat for injured pitchers -- in 2020.