The World Baseball Classic is locked in for another edition in 2026—heading for another March setting—while some “minor clarifications” to the MLB pitch timer rules will be announced this week, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said before the WBC championship game Tuesday night.
Baseball’s Competition Committee has been reviewing the new rules this season as it sees them implemented through spring training games. Some adjustments already have been made, including a specification against pitchers using the pitch timer to “quick pitch” batters. He indicated similar clarifications are forthcoming.
“We had a series of clarifications that we're going to announce shortly,” he said. He declined to specify those clarifications but said they have arisen from “things that have come out of player input [and] conversations that have taken place with various people. We're going to announce those in the next day or two. We have another set of issues that we want to see after some regular season games before we make a decision [on those].”
A source familiar with the Competition Committee discussions said the proposed clarifications do not touch the basic structure of the pitch timer: 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner. Instead, the source said, they address “common sense” issues that mostly involve the starting of the timer, including when a baserunner needs more time to return to his base, such as after a sprint or slide when a batter fouls off a pitch.
Manfred confirmed the WBC will be staged again in 2026. “It's in the basic agreement,” he said. “We have agreement with the union on it.”
When asked about holding the event at a different time of year, Manfred said, “There's just no perfect time. We can't really do it after the playoffs because so many players have been down. We have talked about something in the middle of the season. I think on balance, although it's not perfect, this is probably the right place for it.”
Manfred said this edition of the WBC has been “really beyond my expectations in terms of how good it’s been.” The one area in which he indicated needed improvement was in attracting the best pitchers, especially for Team USA.
“From a competitive perspective, I think the most important thing is we're going to need to continue to work, particularly with our clubs, about pitching,” he said. “I'd like to see pitching staffs that are of the same quality as our position players.”