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MLB, players nearing agreement to expand rosters, abandon pitch clock, per report

Changes would be implemented for the 2020 baseball season.

MLB: MLB: Baseball Hall of Fame-Induction Ceremony Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball’s players and owners are closing in on an agreement that would increase roster sizes from 25 to 26 players for most of the regular season, and expanding to 28 players beginning September 1, according to a report from the Associated Press. The proposed changes would first take effect in the 2020 season.

The agreement would also scrap the implementation of a pitch clock through the 2021 season, and re-open talks on changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The current agreement runs through the 2021 season, but could be extended if any changes are made. Players and owners were close to agreement on expanding rosters as part of the current CBA, but they ran out of time, as players objected to limiting the number of players who could be called up in September. Currently, teams can call up any players on the 40-man roster on September 1, although most clubs only expand up to 32 or 33 players for the last month of the season.

The agreement would have specific limits on the number of pitchers who could be on the roster as well. Teams could carry no more than 13 pitchers for most of the season, increasing to 14 pitchers after September 1. The players were reportedly set to oppose Manfred’s proposal to require that pitchers face three batters, except at the end of an inning. He will have the power to unilaterally implement that change next offseason, but prefers to make any changes with the approval of players.

Players are concerned about the slowed market for free agent signings over the past two seasons, and have proposed changes that include adding a full-time designated hitter in National League games, and changes to the draft order to remove incentives for teams to sign players and improve their position in the standings.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the proposals include implementation of an All-Star Election day.

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.

Other changes reportedly include:

  • Increasing the minimum time spent on the disabled list, and the minimum time on optional assignment from 10 to 15 days.
  • Allowing MLB to shorten the time between innings.
  • The minimum number of players would be increased from 24 to 25.
  • Starting extra innings of the All-Star Game with a runner on second base (a truly horrible idea).
  • There have been discussions about combining the non waiver trade deadline, which is currently July 31st, and the special waiver deadline, which is August 31, and having a uniform deadline without a special waiver period.

For the Tigers, limits on calling up players in September could delay the arrival of some of their top prospects.

The changes to roster limits would also apply to rosters during postseason play. The financial impact on clubs would be modest, since the prorated major league minimum salaries paid out in September would be offset by one full-time salary on the roster. The most harmful impact would hit minor league players who never get to play a game in the major leagues. Just one day of service time affects their minimum salary in the minor leagues, as well as benefits that come with being a member of the MLB Players’ Association.