Manfred: No DH or draft changes likely in ’19

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said management is focused on pace-of-game changes for 2019, and bolder ideas suggested by players such as expanding the designated hitter to the National League are too complicated to be put in place for this season.

Speaking Friday at the end of an owners’ meeting, Manfred said he is encouraged the players’ association responded to management’s proposal for a pitch clock and a three-batter minimum for a relief pitcher unless an inning ends.

Larger issues such as the DH and changes to the amateur draft will be for talks to determine the next collective bargaining agreement. The current deal expires at the end of the 2021 season, but MLB would be open to major changes as part of an extension of the current deal.

“I think we are at a point where we have a dialogue going with the players’ association — a dialogue that we’ve been looking to have — and I’m hopeful that we will continue the process of change, in terms of inducing additional action in the game, improving the pace of game,” Manfred told ESPN’s Pedro Gomez. “But in terms of precise changes, it’s just impossible for me to predict at this point in the process.”

Manfred also said that he hopes free-agent stars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado can reach deals before training camps begin next week.

“It takes two parties to make an agreement,” Manfred told Gomez. “Our goal in Major League Baseball is to get all of our players signed, particularly our star players, and have ’em in camp when we’re ready to go. We’ve got another week to go, and I’m really hopeful that the representatives for the players find a club and they’re able to make a deal.”