On Thursday, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced numerous rule changes that will go into effect in 2019 and 2020.
Changes for the 2019 season
- Inning breaks for all games will now be two minutes, down from 2:05 for local game and 2:25 for national broadcasts.
- Mound visits per team will be reduced from six to five.
- There will now be one trade deadline on July 31. No trades can occur after that date, but players can still be placed on waivers and claimed on outright waivers after that date.
- All-Star game voting will see a significant overhaul with fan voting in two rounds. First, the “Primary Round” will have the team nominate one player per eligible position. An “Election Day” will then occur with the top three vote-getters at each position (nine for outfielders) from each League where fans vote on the All-Star Game starters.
- The winner of the Home Run Derby will now receive $1 million, and total prize pool money for the competition increases to $2.5 million.
Changes coming for 2020 season
- Active roster limit will increase from 25 to 26 players. Teams will be allowed to carry 27 players during a doubleheader.
- September rosters of 40 active players will be gone, teams will only be able to carry 28 players.
- There will be a cap on the number of pitchers that teams are allowed to carry on the active roster, that will be determined by the joint committee.
- Teams must designate before each game whether a player will be used as a pitcher or position player. Exceptions to the rule include players designated as a “Two-Way Player” (qualifies if he pitched at least MLB 20 innings and at least 20 MLB games started as a position player or DH during current or prior season). Other exceptions are extra innings or any game when the a team is winning or losing by more than six runs.
- Starting pitchers and relief pitchers must either face a minimum of three batters or finish the current inning. Exceptions include incapacitating injury or illness.
- The amount of days pitchers must spend on the Injured List increases from 10 to 15 days as does the minimum assignment period of pitchers optioned to the minors.
Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, told Alex Spier of the Boston Globe that the MLBPA was not on board with the three batter minimum rule for pitchers and that MLB chose to implement it unilaterally.
Clark had this to say about the new deadline according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, “We think there is value in doing all that you can to have the best team you can have at the start of the season. And we think having a single trade deadline could impact some of those decisions.”
For more info check out the MLB press release.