Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced a handful of rule changes Thursday, some of which will take effect in 2019 but most which will be implemented for the 2020 season.
The impact of these rule changes, reported on first by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, vary from insignificant to potentially greatly impacting how the game is played.
The long-awaited MLB/MLBPA deal is done, sources tell ESPN, and includes a single trade deadline, an All-Star Game Election Day, expanded rosters in 2020 and, most important, a pledge to start bargaining over fundamental economic issues. News @ESPN: https://t.co/b7yvvVdxMd
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 14, 2019
In 2019, a single, hard trade deadline will be put in place. July 31 will be the last opportunity for teams to trade players as the league has abolished August waiver trades. August had become a popular time to acquire good Major League caliber players in recent years as players such as Justin Verlander, Josh Donaldson, and Andrew McCutchen found themselves on new teams late in the season in recent years. There is belief from the union and the league that this will create more certainty for veteran players that won’t have to worry about being dealt so late in the year.
Mound visits will be reduced to five per team per game, down from the six mound visits allowed last season, in a bid to increase the pace of the game. Certain game events are exempt from this rule including cases of injury and pinch hitter announcements.
Another new rule will be used to provide incentive for players to participate in the Home Run Derby. A $1 million prize awaits the winner of the derby which is almost double the league minimum salary.
A three-batter minimum and roster expansion to 26 are happening in 2020 while a single trade deadline and All-Star Game Election Day are joining the $1M Home Run Derby winner’s bonus in 2019, sources tell ESPN. News on the MLB/MLBPA deal coming Thursday: https://t.co/b7yvvVdxMd
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 14, 2019
MLB will also host an “All-Star Election Day” starting this season. Fans will vote for All-Stars in the same manner they have been but they won’t have the power they used to have as the top three vote getters at each position will be voted on by fans over a to be determined amount of time. The hope is that more players will get in based on merit instead of pure popularity. Each player in the top three at each position will also get an All-Star bonus payment.
Commercial breaks between innings will drop from 2:05 to 2:00 on local broadcasts and from 2:25 to 2:00 for nationally televised broadcasts starting in 2019.
The 2020 season will introduce even more changes mostly limited to game action.
A three batter minimum will be put in place where each pitcher, starter or reliever, must face three batters before they may leave the game, barring injury. The only exception to this rule is that if a pitcher ends an inning without facing three batters, they may leave the game. This could potentially hurt relievers that have made their careers in the specialist role.
Active rosters will change drastically in 2020, with the active roster limit raising from 25 to 26 men with a to be determined limit on active pitchers on any given roster. September roster expansion will also be cut from 40 players to 28. Teams will also have to designate each player as a pitcher, position player, or a two-way player (has to pitch at least 20 innings and start at least 20 games as a position player or designated hitter). Position players will not be able to pitch in games unless their team is down six runs or the game is in extra innings.
Finally, pitchers will need to be on the injured list for at least 15 days, up from ten days in 2018. They will also have to stay in the minors for a minimum of 15 days when they are optioned to the minor leagues.
MLB, MLBPA ANNOUNCE ON-FIELD AGREEMENT
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) March 14, 2019
These rules were agreed upon by both MLB and the MLBPA, both making sacrifices in order to relieve the tensions brought about the last two offseasons regarding the slow free agent market.
What do you think about these rule changes? Are they a necessary evil or are they completely unnecessary? What rule changes do you want to see?