MLB Commissioner Says League Won’t Install Robot Home Plate Umpires in 2025

MLB Commissioner

Getty Images Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred

In recent years, Major League Baseball has employed new technology to help improve the game. However, according to a recent report, MLB will not begin using robot umpires to call balls and strikes – at least not in 2025.

At a media conference held following the owners’ meetings on May 23, commissioner Rob Manfred stated that while the move has been discussed, it would not be implemented in time for next season.

Since 2019, the automated ball-strike system – commonly referred to by fans and media as ‘robot umpires’ – has been used in the minor leagues as a test run for MLB. The ABS system uses cameras to track a pitch’s exact location, then sends the call to the home plate umpire through an earpiece. The home plate umpire still signals balls and strikes – but with the help of an electronic assistant.

Robot Umps Aren’t Feasible Right Now

Manfred, who revolutionized the MLB game by introducing the pitch clock in 2023,  stated that he believes that the ABS system still has a few kinks that need to be worked out before it makes its official, big-league debut.

“We still have some technical issues,” Manfred said, according to the Associated Press. “We haven’t made as much progress in the minor leagues this year as we sort of hoped at this point. I think it’s becoming more and more likely that this will not be a go for ’25.”

The ABS system been used at the Triple-A level this year for a second straight season. With it in place, the robot calls the balls and strikes for the first three games of each series, with a human with a challenge system in the final three (MiLB adopted a six-game, regional series in their schedule starting in 2021). It’s believed that Major League Baseball will eventually adopt a process similar to this.

MLB Players Have Their Say

While it would seem advantageous to most players for the call to be electronically accurate, Manfred said some players don’t like losing the human element behind the game. In particular, he said, catchers’ ability to ‘frame’ a pitch is essentially eliminated with robot umpires, and that strategic move has been a part of the game for generations.

“Originally we thought everybody was going to be wholeheartedly in favor of the idea if you can get it right every single time, that’s a great idea,” Manfred said. “One thing we’ve learned in these meetings is the players feel there could be other effects on the game that would be negative if you use it full-blown.”


“Players feel that a catcher that frames is part of the, if you’ll let me use the word art of the game, and that if in fact framing is no longer important, the kind of players that would occupy that position might be different than they are today.”

“You could hypothesize a world where instead of a framing catcher who’s focused on defense, the catching position becomes a more offensive player,” Manfred concluded. “That alters people’s careers. Those are real, legitimate concerns that we need to think all the way through before we jump off that bridge.”

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