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MLB commissioner: Automatic ball-strike system unlikely for '25

Thu May 23 8:23pm ET
Field Level Media

Citing "technical issues," Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters on Thursday that robot home plate umpires likely won't be implemented next season.

"We haven't made as much progress in the minor leagues this year as we sort of hoped at this point," Manfred said at a news conference after an owners meeting. "I think it's becoming more and more likely that this will not be a go for ‘25."

The automated ball-strike system has been used in the minor leagues since 2019 and is at all Triple-A parks for the second straight season. At Triple-A, the robot is used alone for the first three games of a series, then a human with a challenge system handles the final three games.

"There's a growing consensus in large part based on what we're hearing from players that the challenge form should be the form of ABS if and when we bring it to the big leagues, at least as a starting point," Manfred said. "I think that's a good decision."

As for the shape of an automated strike zone, it hasn't been discussed with the players association, Manfred said.

"We have not started those conversations because we haven't settled on what we think about it," he said.

MLB learned through meeting with players that they want the challenge system to support a catcher's framing skills.

"Originally we thought everybody was going to be wholeheartedly in favor of the idea if you can get it right every single time, that's a great idea," Manfred said. "One thing we've learned in these meetings is the players feel there could be other effects on the game that would be negative if you use it full-blown.

"Players feel that a catcher that frames is part of the, if you'll let me use the word, art of the game, and that if in fact framing is no longer important, the kind of players that would occupy that position might be different than they are today."

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