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A’s, White Sox working on Brett Lawrie deal

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Ignoring¬†all of the fun possibilities a Jed LowrieBrett Lawrie infield affords, the A’s are set to trade Lawrie to the White Sox for a pair of prospects, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports.

In an unrelated move, the A’s are also moving close to adding John Axford to the bullpen, Slusser states.

It’s unclear who the A’s will be getting back from the White Sox in the deal, but it seems they’ve been playing to move Lawrie since the end of the season, if not well before. The 25-year-old hit .260/.299/.407 in what’s expected to go down as his only season in Oakland. He was acquired from the Jays in the Josh Donaldson deal last winter.

The White Sox need all of the infield help they can get, particularly after declining Alexei Ramirez‘s option for 2016. If the season started today, they’d probably open up with Carlos Sanchez at second, Tyler Saladino at shortstop and Mike Olt at third base. None of those are ideal solutions, though Sanchez at least has a very good glove. Shortstop prospect Tim Anderson could arrive at midseason to push Saladino into the utility role for which he’s best suited.

Oakland had been publically stating that Lowrie would play second base next year, but that’s back open again now. Lowrie and Marcus Semien will occupy two of the three non-first base infield spots, with Lowrie probably at second or third and Semien remaining at short. Ideally, they’d do better than Eric Sogard for the remaining starting spot.

Report: MLB likely to unilaterally implement pace of play changes

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association concerning pace of play changes have stalled, which makes it more likely that commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implements the changes he seeks. Those changes include a pitch clock and a restriction on catcher mound visits.

Manfred said, “My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players. But if we can’t get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.”

The players have made several suggestions aimed at reducing the length of games, such as amending replay review rules, strictly monitoring down time between innings, and bringing back bullpen carts.

It is believed that MLB is proposing a pitch clock of 20 seconds. If a pitcher takes too long between pitches, he will have a ball added to the count. If the hitter takes too long, then he will have a strike added to the count.