In response to the recent years of slow free agency, Major League Baseball and the MLB Player’s Association went to work on the current collective bargaining agreement.
Reported changes to the CBA, set to be implemented in 2020, include expansions of normal rosters from 25 to 26 players.
Additionally, teams will only be allowed to carry 13 pitchers at a time and each pitcher must face at least three batters. However, another change will significantly impact the All-Star game voting process with the goal of increasing fan engagement.
Starting this season, All-Star starters will be chosen on a special election day, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
An All-Star Election Day has been discussed but never implemented. Under the proposed plan, the standard online voting would take place starting this year. Upon its completion, the top three vote-getters at each position in each league would be on the ballot on Election Day, and whichever players received the most votes on that single day would determine the All-Star starters, according to sources.
While it is rare for a top sports league like MLB to negotiate major changes to a current CBA, the recent frigid free agency market, which saw superstars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado wait until the start of Spring Training to sign with new teams, has spurred action between the MLB and MLBPA.
MLB most recently agreed to delay the implementation of a pitch clock in the regular season until at least 2022. It has been used throughout Spring Training this year.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has the right to enforce a pitch clock whenever he so chooses, according to Passan. However, several MLB veterans spoke out against the pitch clock, including Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill.
However, MLB is using the independent Atlantic League to test possible significant rule changes, including robot umpires.