In addition to announcing a slew of changes for this year, including doing away with the August waiver trade deadline, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agreed to new rules that will be implemented at the beginning of the 2020 season.
Arguably the most aggressive change is with an amended rule requiring all pitchers to either face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of a half-inning (with exceptions for incapacitating injury or illness).
Also beginning next year, active rosters from Opening Day through Aug. 31 and during the postseason, will increase from 25 to 26 players; and the minimum number of active players will increase from 24 to 25 during those same timeframes.
With that, whereas current rules allow for a 26th player to be added to an active roster for a doubleheader, teams will now be permitted to carry a 27th player in those cases.
However, MLB is doing away with a 40-man roster for September. Instead, from Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season, all clubs must carry 28 players on their active roster.
While active rosters are expanding, the number of pitchers a team may carry will be capped at a set number to be determined by the joint committee. Clubs will be required to designate each of its players as either a pitcher or a position player prior to each player’s first day on the active roster for a given season.
The designation will remain in effect for the player, and cannot change, for the remainder of the season and postseason. Thus no player who isn’t designated as a pitcher may appear in a game unless:
- Players designated as a “Two-Way Player.” A player qualifies as a “Two-Way Player” only if he accrues at least 20 Major League innings pitched and at least 20 Major League games started as a position player or designated hitter (with at least three plate appearances in each of those games) in either the current season or the prior season
- Following the ninth inning of an extra-inning game
- In any game in which his team is losing or winning by more than six runs when the player enters as a pitcher
Lastly, though it is subject to feedback from the joint committee, the minimum period for pitchers placed on the injured list will increase from 10 days to 15 days. That also will hold true for the minimum assignment period for pitchers who are optioned to the Minors.
As part of the announced changes, MLB and the MLBPA will meet and discuss a renegotiation and extension of the collective bargaining agreement. It’s with that understanding, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred agreed to not implement a pitch timer for the remainder of the current agreement.