Report: Red Sox, Beckett progressing in talks

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SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Red Sox and Josh Beckett are making progress on a new deal that would keep the free-agent-to-be in Boston beyond 2010.
The two sides have been working with an unofficial Opening Day deadline as they attempt to reach a compromise. Beckett, who is entering the option year of a contract that’s paid him $40 million over four years, would surely prefer to top the five-year, $82.5 million contract that John Lackey signed with the Red Sox over the winter.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, may prove unwilling to give Beckett a true five-year deal. Heyman suggests that a four-year extension worth about $70 million would be a fair compromise. It seems reasonable. Beckett would get a higher average annual salary than Lackey after his new contract begins, and the Red Sox wouldn’t have to commit beyond 2015. While it’s a steep figure, Beckett would almost surely command a true five- or six-year deal as a free agent next winter if he if he stays healthy and tops 200 innings for the fourth time in five years.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.