Major League Baseball and the independent Atlantic League announced on Tuesday that the two sides have reached a three-year agreement that will allow MLB to test experimental playing rules and equipment during the Atlantic League’s Championship Season. The announcement also notes that MLB will install radar tracking technology in eight ballparks and provide statistical services to Atlantic League clubs.
As the term “independent” indicates, the Atlantic League operates separately from Major League Baseball. That MLB will have influence on the league’s rules and equipment choices as well as access to data is a pretty big deal. It was only recently that MLB even acknowledged that independent leagues existed.
The Atlantic League is essentially a baseball laboratory for MLB, not unlike the Arizona Fall League. It’s not known yet exactly what kind of rules MLB plans to test and at what frequency, but it will be interesting to watch. One wonders if this will make life more difficult for the players, who are paid less than minor leaguers.