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Report: Phillies came closest to acquiring Jay Bruce during the offseason

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Marc Carig of Newsday reports that the Phillies came closest to acquiring Mets outfielder Jay Bruce during the offseason. Though the Phillies are still in a rebuilding phase, the club was on the hunt for veteran outfielders on short-term contracts, which explains why the club sought Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders. It is unclear why the Phillies came up short, but the Mets reportedly wanted two prospects in return. The Phillies could’ve been turned off by that and/or Bruce’s $13 million salary.

Bruce, 30, has terrorized the Phillies to start the 2017 season. Overall, he’s hitting .309/.387/.673 with six home runs and 14 RBI in 62 plate appearances. Four of those home runs and 11 of those RBI have come in his 21 PA against the Phillies. And two of those home runs and five of those RBI came on Wednesday night, when he provided all of the Mets’ offense in a 5-4 win over the Phillies.

Bruce was a lightning rod for criticism in New York as he struggled mightily with the Mets, batting a meager .219/.294/.391 in 50 games after the Mets acquired him from the Reds. Some surmised he couldn’t handle the pressure of a major media market. At least in the early going this year, Bruce is putting those concerns to rest.

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.