ORLANDO — Major-league owners took a significant step toward a vastly expanded instant replay system for next season that will include showing replays to fans at the stadiums.
Final approval is expected in January, after deals are reached with the players' and umpires' unions and requisite rule changes are adopted.
"We have the greatest game in the world," commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday. "But we have to continue to make adjustments."
Not all of the details have been finalized, but the basic framework of the system is set:
• Managers will have a maximum of two challenges per game. If they are right, they keep the challenge.
• Managers will come on the field to challenge (no flags like football) before the next pitch.
• Reviews will be conducted in New York by a crew of current or former umpires, and their ruling will be communicated to the on-field umpires.
• If a manager is out of challenges, the on-field crew likely will be able to ask for a review.
• Almost all calls except for balls/strikes and checked swings will be subject to review.
MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred said there will be several provisions to prevent long delays. For example, a manager can't argue a call then ask for a review, and players won't be allowed to stall to allow team officials to look at video and decide whether to challenge.
Also, fans at the games will get a look at the replays; presently controversial plays aren't shown.
"Some of the best minds in baseball have worked on getting replay to this point,'' Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "It's an ambitious program that will be of great benefit to the game, but it will not be without some bumps along the way.''
GROUND WORK: After numerous conversations with player agents and other teams, Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman headed home from the GM/owners meetings with a better sense of potential moves.
"These have been a productive few days," he said. "I think we have a lot more clarity right now in terms of what might be more real, and we'll regroup over the next few days and try to set our plan in motion as quickly as we can."
The Rays are looking for a first baseman, catcher and one or two late-inning relievers. Friedman said it "could go either way" whether their next move is a trade or signing, but he "would be surprised if nothing happened between now and the (Dec. 8-12) winter meetings."
HIGH PRAISE: Though the Cubs passed over Dave Martinez in hiring Rick Renteria as manager, GM Jed Hoyer had kind words for the Rays bench coach.
"Davey did a great job in the interview process. We really enjoyed him," Hoyer said. "I think on his own, he's very bright, very hard-working, very well respected. And then from the interview process, it sounds like he's learned a ton being with Joe Maddon. He'll be a manager really soon in the big leagues."
MISCELLANY: MLB officials are still negotiating to amend the posting system involving Japanese players. … Selig said they are continuing efforts to improve pace-of-game issues. … MLB donated $200,000 to typhoon relief in the Philippines.
Times staff writer Stephen Nohlgren contributed to this report.