MLB, players union reportedly have agreement to automate intentional walks

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that there would be no significant rule changes in 2017 because of an uncooperative players union. Perhaps he was posturing.

Hours later, it looks like there will be at least one noteworthy change -- intentional walks will now be issued by giving a sign rather than the act of throwing four wide ones. That’s according to Howard Bryant:

There’s no word yet on what the dugout signal will be -- probably something creative, like, say, holding up four fingers -- but this seems like a relatively small tweak that will save a minute here or there without impacting the integrity of the game. Given the trifling differences -- there were 932 intentional walks issued in 2016, or about two every five games -- you could argue there was no reason to tweak anything about the intentional walk process.

But this news signals that that argument held no water with those who decide these things.

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