After a winter of bickering about the distribution of the sport’s wealth, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Assn. announced a series of rule changes to be made over the next two seasons, including the end of waiver-wire trades in 2019 and the elimination of 40-player September rosters in 2020.
During negotiations, the two sides agreed not to implement a pitch clock until the end of the current collective bargaining agreement, which runs through 2021. Players complained about the potential unilateral introduction of the clock when it was used during games this spring.
In 2019, the sport will operate with July 31 as its lone trade deadline. In the past, players could be dealt afterward as they were threaded through the waiver wire. Other changes coming this season included shorter broadcast breaks between innings, the reduction of mound visits from six to five and a few alterations to the All-Star Game.
Unable to lure its top stars to compete in the Home Run Derby in recent years, the sport has now added a financial incentive. The winner of the contest will receive $1 million, as part of a $2.5-million prize pool.
The changes coming in 2020 will be less cosmetic: Teams will be able to use a 26-man roster, rather than a 25-man roster, until September; pitchers will be mandated to face at least three hitters or to end a half-inning; a stint on the injured list will revert to a 15-day stay for pitchers, rather than the 10-day stay implemented in 2016.
After Sept. 1, all teams will be allowed to carry 28 players, rather than the 40-man glut of recent years. As part of the ongoing discussions, the teams and the players will negotiate to determine the number of pitchers allowed on each roster. The number has not yet been set.