CARLSBAD, Calif.—Team executives expressed widespread support for pitch clocks at the general manager’s meetings this week at the La Coast Resort and Spa.
Major League Baseball implemented a 15-second pitch clock in Low-A West during the season and is currently using a pitch clock in the Arizona Fall League.
While no official plans have been made to implement a pitch clock in MLB, it is clear support for one is rising in front offices around the game.
Here is what every executive surveyed by Baseball America at the GM meetings said about pitch clocks and the possibility of implementing them in MLB. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos: “I’m for anything that can help cut the dead time out of the game. I’m open to anything. So I think whatever we can do to cut dead time out of the game, obviously everyone is going to have to agree, players and stuff, but I’m all for it.”
Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti: “The pitch timer is one that I think you could just see the difference. I mean when you’re watching a game, you’re out at the Arizona Fall League and you just feel the game just moving along much more quickly. So not only I think it shaved 20-plus minutes off game time, you can just feel it when you’re at the ballpark. There’s just not as much dead time, and I’m not aware of anyone whose looking to add more dead time.”
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins: “I love it. I love the dialogue around it. I love the concept of thinking about how we can react to our fans desires and think about the health and vitality of this game and creating as much energy and excitement around it as possible. Seems like really good early returns, and now thinking about the next step is really exciting to me.
“I think the challenge with it is just the buy-in from players and what it means for a hitter to rhythm and routines, but I love it. I love it if we can make it happen and if players are bought in to doing it, I love the concept because it clearly is reaching, it’s helping towards that goal.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom: “On any specific change, I have not spent enough time on the data to take a stance. I do think if we can have a faster paced game without compromising any of the outcomes or any of the style of play that we want, we should want that. I don’t think anybody comes to the ballpark for the dead time. People want action. We all do. And so, the more of that we can get, the better off we are. We just need to make sure we’re really studying any change we want to put into play to make sure we have our arms around all of the consequences as much as possible.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman: “Very positive. I think obviously there is a need to speed the game up. It’s certainly something that we want to respond to from our fans reaction, and it’s certainly one of many different things that can be done to help do that. I think that that’s an automatic.”
Pirates general manager Ben Cherington: “I’ve seen some of the data on some of the impact it’s had not just on pace but balls in play and strikeout rates, things like that. So if as a group of people who care about baseball, we agree that those things make for a more aesthetically pleasing game, hopefully that’s a good sign. I think we’re really interested to see as we get bigger samples over time, assuming that we continue to use these rules in different places, we probably just need more of a sample and more data but encouraging early returns.”
Astros general manager James Click: “I think we all want a little bit more pace to the game and I think if we were to implement a pitch clock, I don’t know how many pitchers it would actually affect. A lot of guys keep a pretty good pace already. But I also want to make sure we think through how it affects the fielders, how it affects the batter, how it affects the catcher. If we’ve got runners on base and we need to go through signs, if a guy needs to step out and get the signs from the third base coach, there’s a lot of that communication and things that go on between pitches in a major league game. So making sure that we haven’t lost sight of those is critical when we’re making those decisions.”
Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto: “I think (all of the rules changes) are interesting, but the time clock, the pitching clock, has always been something I’ve been interested in because it’s something that we’ve slowly been implementing over time in baseball. I think that has a chance to really be a positive in both time of game and the action that we’re seeing on the field, which is what we’re trying to get to as an industry, a more interesting game.”
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski: “We were just talking about one rule I really like is when they have, because I was just in Arizona, I’m a big advocate of the clock, the timer. I guess about everybody is. I like it. I like different ideas and trying different things.
“The game moves faster. Pitcher gets the ball, the batter’s in the box and here you go. Just a lot more action on a consistent basis. So that’s what I really like. You don’t have much downtime at all. They did do it a few years ago and I remember there they called some balls at the time, but guys adjust very quickly. It’s amazing how quickly. And I think in some ways it’s more beneficial for some pitchers, because sometimes some pitchers are working too slow, and now they get back on the mound and boom they’re ready to go. When you talk about that time period, it’s not rushing people at all.”
Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey: “Some of the pitch clock, pitch timer stuff out on the West Coast at the Low-A level was really interesting. I think that all of the (rules changes), I was surprised by some outcomes, I know everyone was a little bit surprised by some of the Atlantic League stuff, but I think we’re trying things. We’re trying to find ways to reflect what our fans want. That’s the key. And quite frankly what we all want in the game. The pitch timer in particular is the one I was most intrigued by. Probably because the results were the most significant.”
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman: “Feedback was really good. I was just in the Fall League last week and wasn’t sure what to expect. Saw it in Rancho (Cucamonga) and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But there is a pace to things that I appreciated. You forget about the clock but you’re just appreciating the pace of it. I enjoyed watching in my limited time with that and our player feedback has been positive.”
D-backs general manager Mike Hazen: “When I saw it in the Fall League it seemed to work very well. I think players are pretty adaptable on the whole as long as it’s within the bounds of reason. So we’ll see what happens. We haven’t gotten a lot of negative feedback from our players in the minor leagues, so I take that as a positive sign.”
Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer: “I know it’s gone really well in the Fall League. I was just down there in the Fall League and it seems like it’s going well. There’s adjustments that have to be made. I think particularly the man on second base, there are some sign-stealing type of issues that you have to get around, but certainly in theory I think we all want quicker games. I can’t imagine you find anyone that doesn’t. So if this is a means to that end, I think it’s great.”
Reds general manager Nick Krall: “I like it. Again, no one wants to see a guy take 40 seconds in between pitches and sit there with the ball. I’ve got a 13- and 10-year-old. My 13-year-old can come to any game any time. My 10-year-old has a very small attention span. She wants something to happen. It’s the world we live in. It’s something where, I like it. I think it’s been really great for the minor league game.”
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak: “We’ve been trying to figure out how best to improve the game at the major league level. It’s nice that we have the ability to have a minor league system where you can test these things. I do sit on the playing rules committee so I’m somewhat biased that you need to test these things somewhere. I will say feedback that we got from places that we weren’t located was really encouraging. I’m not one of those kinds of people that feel like change is bad. I think change can be healthy and if it helps draw interest in the game and brings more fans to the game, I’m all for it.
“(Pitch clocks) appeared to be impactful, so I think that’s encouraging. I would (support it).”
Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller: “I like the pitch clocks, personally. I just think anything that leads to pace and tempo and crispness on the field is a good thing. I think anytime there is change it takes a little bit of time to get used to, but in terms of what you’re trying to see from the product on the field, I enjoy it personally. I like it because I think it leads to a crisp game on the field and that’s what you’re looking for. Less downtime, more excitement, more action and I think the pitch clock, at least the little bit that I’ve seen with the Fall League and the minor leagues, I think has added to that for sure.”
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo: “We’ve heard good responses from the pitchers, so I think it’s something that needs a little bit further looking into. But I think that the pitchers did not mind it very much. I’ve heard the Fall League was very seamless with the pitch clock. I’d have to do more research, but MLB is doing such great work just trying to make the game better and not force-feeding it on people. Trying it on those lower levels I think it a great idea.”
Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns: “Personally I’m very supportive of that. And I understand why veteran players at the major league level may have challenges with it, but I think it’s something that as an industry is important for us and we should continue to push it.”
Rangers general manager Chris Young: “I think for the most part (the rules changes) had the desired effect. The two main objectives to reduce time of game and to increase action within the game, I think for the most part they had the desired impact. I think Major League Baseball has done a tremendous job of continuing to really push some of these experimental rules and test in a safe manner, at which point they’ll determine which ones are the right ones.
“I don’t think I was a big offender of taking a long time in between pitches. I think that our game has the best athletes in the world who make great adjustments on a daily basis and will continue to do so.”