Major League Baseball and it’s Player’s Association have agreed to several important rule changes. There will be a first wave of changes effective this season, highlighted by the eradication of post-deadline waiver trades and a second wave in 2020. The second wave will carry three equally impactful changes.
2019 Rule Changes
Previously, if teams wished to make trades after the July 31 deadline, they could do so by passing players through waivers first. There will be no such trades in 2019 though. Teams still have the option to place and claim players off waivers in August and September, but July 31 will be the absolute last day they can be traded.
Shorter Innings Breaks
After talks with broadcast partners, the time between innings for local games will be shortened from 2:05 to 2:00. Nationally broadcasted games will see the time between innings shrink from 2:25 to 2:00 as well. If it sees fit, and it likely will, the Commissioner’s Office also reserves the right to cut the times down to 1:55 come 2020.
Prior to the 2018 season, the league introduced the first-ever limit on mound visits, setting the number at six per game. Heading into the 2019 season, they’ve decided to reduce that number to five.
The All-Star Game voting process will see changes as well this upcoming season. Instead of one round of fan voting, where the top vote-getters start the game, there will now be a second step in the process. After an initial round of voting by fans, a second ‘election day’ type vote will be held in late June. This secondary vote will decide, between the top three candidates at each position, who will start the game.
Home Run Derby
There will also be a small change to the Home Run Derby, in regards to the prize money. The grand total will be increased to $2.5 million, with the winner receiving $1 million.
2020 Rule Changes
Come 2020, teams will be able to carry a maximum of 26 players on their big league roster from Opening Day through August 31. The minimum number will also increase from 24 to 25, and the number for doubleheaders will rise from 26 to 27.
After August 31, rosters will no longer expand to 40. Instead, teams will only be allowed to carry 28 players through September.
Additionally, the amount of pitchers teams can carry will be capped at a certain number. That number will be decided on at a later date. Players will be designated as either a pitcher or position player the day they are placed on the active roster. Their designation will not change for the remainder of the season. This will eliminate position players pitching, unless:
- They are designated as a “Two-Way” player. To qualify for such, they must have accumulated at least 20 innings pitched and at least 20 games started as a position player or designated hitter, with at least three at-bats in those games, in either the current or previous season.
- The game goes into extra innings.
- His team is losing or winning by more than six runs when he takes the mound.
Three Batter Minimum
Also effective in 2020, upon entering the game all pitchers will be required to face a minimum of three batters or finish a half inning. Injuries and illness will be clear exceptions. This will effectively eliminate all specialty relievers.
Thanks to teams manipulating the 10-day disabled list, the minimum stint will return to 15 days in 2020. The minimum assignment period for pitchers sent down will also increase from 10 to 15 days.
Featured Image by MLB.com
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