"The competition committee was restructured to put us in a position that we had a more diverse group of people giving input on various changes that we've been talking about," Manfred said as the Owners Meetings came to a close. "In particular, we felt it was crucial to have field managers and general managers have as much say as possible in the process because of their on-field expertise, their credibility in terms of advocating for change."
The committee now consists of the following:
• Sandy Alderson -- General manager, New York Mets
• Roberto Alomar -- Hall of Famer and special consultant to MLB
• Chris Antonetti -- President, baseball operations, Cleveland Indians
• Frank Coonelly -- President, Pittsburgh Pirates
• Ray Davis -- Co-chairman and managing partner, Texas Rangers
• Jerry Dipoto -- Executive vice president and general manager, Seattle Mariners
• Theo Epstein -- President, baseball operations, Chicago Cubs
• Joe Girardi -- Manager, New York Yankees
• Mark Lerner -- Principal owner, Washington Nationals
• Mike Matheny -- Manager, St. Louis Cardinals
• Dave Roberts -- Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers
• David Samson -- President, Miami Marlins
• Mark Shapiro -- President and CEO, Toronto Blue Jays
• Buck Showalter -- Manager, Baltimore Orioles
• John Smoltz -- Hall of Famer and Analyst, FOX Sports and MLB Network
• Tom Werner -- Chairman, Boston Red Sox
Manfred said there were plenty of people interested in joining the newly structured committee.
"The one thing that really is true is when you're talking about issues related to the play of the game on the field, that's where everybody's interest piques," Manfred said. "That's because it's about the game. It's always about the game, so we were not short on volunteers in terms of this undertaking."
"I'm honored to be involved and hope I can provide a useful voice," Dipoto told MLB.com in a text message. "As you can see, it's an extraordinary roster of baseball people."
Girardi jumped at the opportunity to become one of the first four active field managers to join baseball's Competition Committee along with Matheny, Showalter and Roberts.
"I think it's important to have a manager's viewpoint, because we have to deal with both players and the front office," Girardi told MLB.com in a telephone interview. "Some of the difficulties in managing today, the difficulties of having a 25-man roster, all the things we have to deal with, we get to offer our opinion.
"When you talk about the competition committee, it's a committee that's always trying to improve the game. I love this game so much, I wanted to be part of that."
Manfred said the newly structured committee was actually altered in January and has been functioning for four months. The owners were updated about the new committee during Wednesday's meetings, informed of some of the group's analysis of the state of the on-field game and some preliminary recommendations that could be made in the coming months.
"I can't say enough about the work that they've done," Manfred said.
Manfred wouldn't address what those potential changes might be, though they figure to include pace-of-game issues. While MLB is using clocks between innings and for instant replay, the Minor Leagues are experimenting with 20-second pitch clocks as a way to quicken the pace of game.
"Among many discussion topics, the current focus is finding ways to lessen the dead time during a game," Dipoto said. "I suspect the diverse business and baseball backgrounds among the group will lend itself to creative ideas and potential solutions."
Manfred said the game has "probably gone backwards a little bit" in terms of pace, though he and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark have had extensive conversations about putting together meetings to discuss pace-of-game issues.
"We remain committed to the idea that always, against the backdrop of respecting the history and traditions of the game and with an understanding that fundamentally our game is a great game, that there are things that can be done to try to improve on the pace-of-game topic," Manfred said. "We will continue to pursue that agenda with Tony over the course of the season."
Could changes be put in place as soon as the 2018 season?
"Out of respect for that process, I'm not going to speculate on what might happen," Manfred said. "We need to let that process play out. Tony has told me that players have their own suggestions about things that might happen and I think it's best for us to receive those and have some conversations before we get into speculating about what might happen."