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#pounditSaturday, May 8, 2021

Report: New umpire labor deal opens door for computerized strike zone

Robot umpires could be coming to Major League Baseball within the next five years as part of the new labor deal between MLB and the umpires’ union.

MLB and the Major League Baseball Umpires Association agreed to a new five-year labor deal Saturday. According to Ben Walker and Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, the MLBUA agreed to cooperate with development and testing of a computerized strike zone as part of the agreement. The union also agreed to cooperate if the league decides to implement such a system.

This essentially means that MLB umpires will not stand in the way as the league continues to pursue strike zone technology. That technology has already been tested in the Atlantic League, and it may be tested in the Class-A Florida State League in 2020. If it passes that test, it is entirely possible that a computerized strike zone could be deployed in Triple-A in 2021 as a dress rehearsal before making it to the majors. Obviously, that would be dependent on the systems passing the test and proving reliable enough to use at an MLB level.

There is definitely growing support for robot umpires within the league. This agreement with the umpires ultimately looks like it may clear the way for robot umps very soon.

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