We’ve written about it in the last month, but today the official announcement came down. Major League Baseball and the Players Association have agreed for several rules changes that will take effect over the next two seasons.
New MLB Rules coming in the 2019 Season
With the upcoming season there’s one rule that is one that may be noticed. The number of times you can visit the mound is dropping once again. In 2019 the maximum number of mound visits a team gets drops to five (from six). At that point any visit to the mound by a player or coach must result in a pitching change.
The other big rule change revolves around the trade deadline. In the past the trade deadline was July 31st. But only kind of. After that players could be traded if they were claimed on waivers through August 30th. We’ve seen some big moves in recent years in the waiver trade deadline period, such as when Justin Verlander headed to Houston in 2017. The trade deadline will remain on July 31st. But the waiver trade deadline has been eliminated. Players can still be placed on outright waivers and claimed after July 31st, but if they are the teams must just allow the team to claim and keep them without getting anything in return other than salary relief. No trades will be allowed.
Lesser rules that don’t exactly effect the game itself are also coming. The break between innings is being shortened. In locally televised games the time between innings is dropping from 2:05 to 2:00. In nationally televised games this will drop from 2:25 to 2:00.
There’s also changes coming for All-Star game and voting. I’ll just copy and paste the release for this one:
- All-Star Game fan voting will be conducted in two rounds. During the “Primary Round,” each Club will nominate one player per eligible position (three outfielders), who will be voted on by fans. In late June or early July, an “Election Day” will be held in which the top three vote-getters at each position in each League during the Primary Round (including the top nine outfielders) will be voted on by fans during a prescribed time period to determine the All-Star Game starters. Further details on the new fan voting format will be announced in April.
- All-Star bonus payments will be given to the top three vote-getters at each position in each League during the Primary Round (top six for outfielders). Additionally, the prize money awarded to players on the winning All-Star team will be increased beginning with the 2019 All-Star Game.
- Both Clubs will start the 10th inning of the All-Star Game, and each subsequent inning, with a runner on second base (re-entry substitutions allowed for runners).
The home run derby is also getting a boost, hopefully. The winning of the event will now get $1M, and the total prize pool is $2.5M.
New MLB Rules coming in the 2020 Season
It’s the 2020 season where there are some real rules changes coming that will change how the game is played. The roster will jump from 25 players to 26 players. In cases of a double header the roster can have 27 players. In September the rosters will no longer be expanded to a possible 40 players. Beginning on September 1st all teams are required to carry 28 players. No more. No less.
Pitchers must face a minimum of 3 batters before exiting a game, unless that pitcher records the final out of an inning before facing 3 batters. They, of course, can be removed from a game before that due to injury or illness. It’s worth noting that this was NOT agreed on by the Players Association and is being implemented by the Commissioners office.
There is also going to be a limit on the number of pitchers allowed on a roster. That number, however, has not been set and will be agreed upon by a joint committee of MLB and MLBPA members. A player, on their first day on the active roster for a season, must be designated as either a pitcher or a position player – and that designation can’t change during the year. Non-pitchers can not pitch in games, with very few exceptions:
- 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 championship season or the prior championship season;
- Following the ninth inning of an extra-inning game; or
- In any game in which his team is losing or winning by more than six runs when the player enters as a pitcher.
It’s that first situation that could come into play for the Cincinnati Reds more than other teams around baseball. While the Reds aren’t the only team trying to find a guy who can both pitch and hit, the other teams all seem to be American League teams who can use the designated hitter role for their pitchers who can also hit. That doesn’t apply for the Reds.
The rules about the “two-way player” is more about not having position players pitch than pitchers get out in the field. But with a limit on the number of “pitchers” on a roster coming, too, if the team could find a way to get Michael Lorenzen designated as a “two-way player”, it would actually allow them to carry one more pitcher on the roster than other teams would be able to. It’s going to be tough to find a way to get him 20 starts are a position player in 2019 to make that happen, but it’s a thing they could, at least in theory, look at as a way to give them a roster advantage.
Two other roster rules are being implemented, too. The injured list (formerly known as the disabled list) will move from 10 days to 15 days for pitchers. When a pitcher is optioned to the minor leagues they will have to remain down for 15 days now, instead of 10.