MLB players, owners to start labor talks 2 years early

Thu Mar 14 11:12am ET
AP Baseball Writer

In this Thursday, June 21, 2018, file photo, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during a news conference in Omaha, Neb. Baseball players and management appear headed to early labor negotiations that could lead to significant economic changes in the collective bargaining agreement and possibly a new deal past the current expiration of December 2021. Management backed off its desire for a pitch clock this year, putting off most on-field changes to at least 2020. The biggest alterations discussed for this year are a single trade deadline and lowering the number of mound visits without a pitching change. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

NEW YORK (AP) Major League Baseball and its players' union reached an unprecedented agreement to discuss renegotiating their labor contract that has three seasons remaining. This is part of a deal that includes modest rule changes for 2020 and drops pitch clocks until 2022 at the earliest.

Players have been furious at slow free-agent markets during the first two offseasons of the five-year labor contract. The sides normally would start negotiations during spring training entering the agreement's final year. Management and the union agreed to discuss a renegotiation and extension of the current deal, set to expire on Dec. 1, 2021.

The agreement announced Thursday eliminates all trades from July 31 through the end of the season starting this year, though players who clear outright waivers can still be claimed and will be eligible for the postseason if they are in the organization before Sept. 1.

Mound visits without pitching changes will be cut from six to five. MLB intends to cut half-inning breaks to 2 minutes this year, down from 2:05 for most games and 2:25 for nationally televised games.

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