As part of a series of rule changes announced by Major League Baseball on Thursday morning, a new restriction on two-way players is slated to take effect in 2020.
But the rules likely will have little effect on Shohei Ohtani, Angels manager Brad Ausmus said.
“It could for a few weeks,” Ausmus said. “So it’s really not that big of a deal.”
Starting in the 2020 season, players can only be designated as two-way on the roster if they have pitched in 20 innings and hit in 20 games. Each game must feature at least three plate appearances.
Ohtani started in 82 games as designated hitter and pitched in 51 2/3 innings over 10 games last season.
But because Ohtani is recovering from Tommy John surgery, he will not pitch in 2019. Once the rule takes effect in 2020, he will not be able to start the season listed as a two-way player. Until he bats in 20 games, Ausmus said Ohtani will take a spot in the Angels’ 13-pitcher limit.
Once he hits in 20 games in 2020, his roster status will return to two-way, and the Angels will have room for another pitcher on the roster.
For two-way players such as Kaleb Cowart and Jared Walsh, it could have a longer-lasting effect. Unlike Ohtani, whether they will start as a designated hitter in 20 games is uncertain. But Ausmus said that will not influence his roster decisions.
“We are still trying take the best 26 guys out of camp,” Ausmus said.
As part of the changes that will take effect over the 2019 and 2020 seasons, players will receive bonuses for competing on the winning All-Star team. Finishing in the top-three for All-Star voting for their position, in their league, will also garner a bonus.
And a $1 million prize emerged for next season’s Home Run Derby winner. An incentive for Mike Trout to participate?
“I mean, I think everyone wants a million bucks,” Trout said. “But I don’t know if it changes my thought process of it.”
The trade deadline will remain July 31, but starting this season there will be no more trade waivers after that date, MLB announced. Ausmus said he’s still uncertain about the implications of that change.
“If you're in the hunt and someone gets injured in August and you need to acquire a player, I'm not really sure how you do that unless somebody was released or put on waivers…” Ausmus said. “I don't know what the real effect is going to be."
Other adjustments scheduled for the 2020 season include an active roster increase from 25 to 26, and an increase in the minimum number of days a player must spend on the injured list, from 10 to 15. Under the new rules, starters and relievers will be required to face three batters, or to pitch until the end of a half inning.
Some of the new rules seem to run counter to trends in analytics, like the rise in catering to pitching matchups and fostering two-way players.
For Ausmus, solace comes in knowing that many of the rules will not take effect until 2020.
The new challenge is still one season away…
No more printed tickets
When the Angels return to Anaheim for the season, tickets printed at home will not be accepted at the gates.
The Angels announced the change Thursday. They will only accept tickets presented on a mobile device on the MLB Ballpark app, or tickets sold at the Angel Stadium Box Office.
Justin Upton (right knee tendinitis) played in a minor league game, and Ausmus said his major league spring training debut is “getting nearer.” He made his first game appearance as a designated hitter at the minor league level.
“We can control how much he runs down there,” Ausmus said. “That's why he's starting there, so we can ease him into the running part of it."
Ausmus said Tyler Skaggs is slated to throw in a minor league game Friday, as he recovers from left forearm fatigue. He said Skaggs threw a light side Wednesday and “feels good.”