Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association on Thursday announced a series of rule changes set to be implemented for the 2019 and 2020 seasons as the two sides continue negotiations related to several facets of the game both on and off the field.
A single trade deadline, the addition of an All-Star “Election Day” and an increase in the Home Run Derby prize pool headline the changes being implemented for the upcoming season.
The trade deadline will remain on July 31, but the ability to utilize trade waivers will be eliminated. Players can still be claimed, but no trades will take place after July 31. This puts more emphasis on contending teams being aggressive in July instead of August, when the Indians have recently added players like Jay Bruce and Josh Donaldson, among others.
Fan voting is also changing for the All-Star Game. A few weeks before the All-Star Game — to be held on July 9 in Cleveland — an “Election Day” will be held in which the top three vote-getters at each position will be voted on by fans during a prescribed period to determine the starters for each league. MLB has lagged behind other sports in terms of marketing its best players, and this is one way in which it can try to make up some ground.
The Home Run Derby prize pool is being upped to $2.5 million, with the winner receiving $1 million, which should further incentivize players to take part. Other changes include in-between innings breaks to be reduced, subject to broadcast partners, and the maximum number of mound visits dropping from six to five.
One final key element to the announced changes is the formation of a joint committee, allowing MLB and the MLBPA to continue studying other potential changes ahead of the ending of the current CBA, which runs through December 2021.
The changes set to take place in 2020 are focused more on in-game elements. The active roster from Opening Day through Aug. 31 (and including the postseason) will increase from 25 to 26 players. After Aug. 1, teams will be able to only carry 28 players instead of being able to expand their active rosters to 40. In an attempt to speed up the game, particularly in September when teams can deploy a mass onslaught of relievers, teams will have limits on how many pitchers they can have on their rosters.
In another attempt to speed up the game, pitchers will have to face a minimum of three batters unless they sustain an injury or end an inning, and measures could be added to ensure teams don’t try to take advantage of the “injury” provision of the rule change.
Finally, the injured list and option period designations for pitchers are set to increase from 10 to 15 days, subject to input from the joint committee.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.