Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are reportedly close to an agreement that would change up some of the rules in the game that we all love. Ronald Blum of The Associated Press covered some of the news and ideas that are likely to happen and that were proposed.

The rules won’t take place this season, but will start in the 2020 season. Some are smaller moves, but two are rather large. The rosters will expand by one player, going from 25 to 26 on the active roster. Currently teams can use a 26th player when they have a double header, but only on that day. This will create 30 new jobs across Major League Baseball.

On the flip side of things, expanded rosters in September would be drastically reduced. Currently teams can call up anyone on the 40-man roster for September if they choose. Teams never call up all 40 players, but they could if they wanted to. After this season that number will be cut down to just 28 players. That means that once September rolls around a team will only be able to add two players.

There’s also a stipulation that of the roster size is limited in how it can be utilized. When the roster is at 26 players, there can only be 13 pitchers. When it’s expanded in September it can only have 14 pitches. This is designed to limit the number of pitching changes a team can make during any given game.

One thing discussed, but may not happen until the next collective bargaining agreement relates to the draft. The players union discussed changing something about the draft that would discourage teams from “tanking” in favor of a higher draft position. What change that is, or would be, was not listed.

A week ago, Ken Rosenthal wrote about some of these proposed changes at The Athletic. Along with the changes in the draft, which were only described as “incentives”, the players union also wanted to work with service time adjustments but backed off of both.

The union initially sought to address its competitive concerns by proposing draft incentives and service-time adjustments, knowing more sweeping economic changes were unlikely in the middle of the CBA. Baseball acknowledged the union’s concerns by countering both proposals, but the sides were so far apart the union believed it better to pursue a narrower focus, sources said. The union almost certainly would re-introduce the ideas, along with more far-reaching economic elements, in the next round of discussions.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this particular aspect of things turns out in the future. It’s going to be a few years, though, if this will only be addressed in the next collective bargaining agreement. The current agreement extends through the 2021 season.

28 Responses

  1. Jim

    With the specialized pitching now a days, I’ll agree the roster needs increased. I prefer 28 man squads. Even hitting .200, the Billy Hamilton’s of the world need a roster spot.
    Sept callup’s limited to 2 extra spots for playing availability, but 5 extra players for exp and big league coaching. Trammel probably isn’t a Sept callup this year, but allow him to come and as long as he doesn’t play it won’t count vs service time. Month in the majors has to be better than Instructional league.

    • Oldtimer

      Billy Hamilton hit (about) .250 nowhere near .200 (for the Reds). He scored about 50% of the time he got on base. Few Reds were close to that % of runs scored per OB.

      • Doug Gray

        The leadoff hitter almost always scores a higher percentage of runs because he’s usually hitting in front of the best hitters on the team.

      • Oldtimer

        Except that Billy Hamilton batted first (sometimes) and eighth or ninth (sometimes).

        He scored runs on some plays where another player (with his speed) would not have scored.

      • Gilbert Keith Chesterton

        Scoring about 50% of the time he got on base would be useful if he actually got on base.

        If you look at something more relevant, such as his runs scored PER AT BAT, he falls between Winker & Suarez, is barely above Gennett, and well below Votto.

        Essentially he used his speed and frequent appearance hitting in front of good hitters to make up for a lack of ability to get on base, allowing him to score on par with the good hitters.

  2. Bill

    I like the 26-man roster, the limit of 28 players in September and the rule that will keep rosters evenly split by position players and pitchers.

    I also would like to see both sides make an effort to get the average game time down to 2:45.

    Most importantly, I’d like to see a CBA that disincentives tanking. Tanking really doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of either side. Tanking essentially takes teams out of the free agent market each year which hurts players and it discourages fans from attending/watching games which impacts revenue. With baseball’s unbalanced scheduling, it also adversely affects competition.

    My suggestion is to build in a payroll floor. I would not tie draft pick penalties to losses, but to player payroll. Just like there are penalties for exceeding payroll at the high end for multiple years, there should be penalties (financial and draft picks) for failing to meet a floor over an agreed to period of years. Even in a rebuilding year, teams should field a competitive team and be willing to sign quality free agents to appropriate contracts.

    A second way to improve competition would be to have an international players over age 25, enter the majors through the Rule 5 draft. If a team can’t sign the player, they could trade their rights. Goal accelerate teams through the rebuild phase. Additionally, rebuilding teams should have the free agent dollars to spend on talent that may take a year to adjust to ML competition even if their skill development is mostly complete.

    Other areas I’d like to see addressed:
    1. improve minor league pay
    2. Elimination of the incentive for teams to hold back players off their major league rosters to gain an extra year of control. Perhaps the CBA could have a provision that gives teams an extra year of control if a player is promoted at the start of the season as a non-roster invitee (move them faster through the minors, gain an extra year of control) in exchange for reducing the threshold of a full year below 172 days for all other players.

    The owners and players have done they hard part; they seem to be in general agreement on the percent of revenues that will go to the players. The next step is to get together and incentivize improving player development and competition across the league.

      • Patrick

        People keep on saying this but it is not true.

        What is true is that the small markets are not spending the revenue sharing that they are getting already.

        Plus it is screwing over the people that are paying the most money to be entertained by MLB. Who is paying the most money deserves the best product.

      • Bill Baker

        I agree. Without a salary cap and floor this game is becoming a 6-8 team race with one or two teams that come from smaller markets hoping that all comes together to have a great year and then have to blow it up and rebuild every other year or so.

      • MBZ

        100% agree on a salary cap, and revenue sharing. I know the players don’t want a cap, but if there is also a salary floor, then they may come around. This would also keep us from having to endure a team tanking again. I’m sorry “rebuilding”.

    • Wes

      Bill u should go work for the players union. They need all the help they can get as they get it handed to em on the reg. I agree w most of what u say but unfortunately owners won’t give all that up or even consider it. They prefer to keep the players under their thumbs with all the control they can muster regardless of how it effects the quality of the game.

      • Bill

        I’m not sure that I agree that the players have been taken advantage of; both parties seem to agree that revenues are split evenly between owners and players. The players need to adjust with the game that now favors younger players–a group they’ve been content to let “pay their dues” in the past. Owners need to share revenues better. Hopefully, declining attendance is a wake-up call to both sides to bring the CBA up-to-date with modern analytics and to grow the fanbase. It’s pretty unlikely revenues will not continue to grow as fast as they have in the past if overall interest in baseball declines.

  3. another bob in nc

    If the NL adopts the DH, the 26th player seems less necessary other than to increase the players’ association dues. Any thoughts on how the DH would affect the 26th player’s use?

    • Keith.

      “Carry a 4th catcher” -Dusty Baker & Bryan Price

      • Oldtimer

        Dusty Baker has career W-L record of more than .500 but Bryan Price is close to .400 for his career.

        Baker >>>>>>>>>> Price.

      • Oldtimer

        Lowest W-L % of any Reds manager who managed team for at least 5 years. Should have been fired 2-3 years earlier. Had Bell come on board then, the Reds may be contending for playoffs in 2019.

    • MBZ

      Assuming that the DH is coming to the NL, and the max a team can have is 13 pitchers on a roster.
      5 Starters
      8 Bullpen
      8 Everyday
      1 DH
      4 Bench
      It all seems to work out. What would be interesting is if you start to see more players like Lorenzen, who can fill multiple roles. Maybe Lorenzen is listed as a OF, but can also throw some innings. I’d guess there could be some roster manipulation like that.

  4. Jim

    With regard to tanking;

    I like the concept of relegation but I know American sports leagues would never go for it. However maybe a modified version of it could be applied to the draft. Say the bottom three teams (or however many) move down in the draft to a certain point. Maybe the non-playoff teams draft in the order they finish. For example the first overall pick goes to the first team out of the playoffs and the team with the worst record picks just before the playoff teams get their picks.

  5. Big Ed

    MLB teams don’t “tank” in the same sense that a NBA team would, in the absence of the lottery. About every other year in the NBA, a guy becomes available (James, Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson, etc.) who will clearly become a major star within a year or so. Very few baseball #1 picks are even in MLB within 2-3 years, with Harper being one of the few. It therefore pays to tank in basketball, but is far more iffy in baseball. Baseball teams do not “tank” to get good draft picks, but instead to cut their losses on bad contracts.

    I think we are now beyond Peak Tanking. Baseball teams generally tank because they have too many expensive contracts on teams that can’t compete. They opt to ditch the contracts and start all over. The Orioles gave Chris (not Khris) Davis 6@$161 million; Mark Trumbo got 3/$37.5mm; Ubaldo Jiminez got 4/$50mm; Adam Jones last year ended a $14mm AAV contract; before 2018, they gave Alex Cobb 4@$57mm; and had finished in 2017 paying JJ Hardy a 3/$40mm contract. Plus, they kept Machado too long.

    The Orioles had no choice but to tank. And it will be a long rebuild there.

    The Astros, on the precipice in 2009, paid Carlos Lee $19mm, Miguel Tejada $15mm, Lance Berkman $14.5mm and Roy Oswalt $14mm. It was the first of 6 straight losing seasons.

    But with the spread of analytics, teams don’t give out ridiculous contracts anymore. Chris Davis and Heyward were the last, although you can only wonder why the Marlins gave G. Stanton his contract. When the ridiculous contracts (Pujols, Smardzijah (which is Rumanian for “defies spell check”), Sandoval, Miggy, Elsbury, etc.) have all been paid, then teams will have shorter rebuild times. And “tanking” won’t really be a thing, if it ever was.

    There really is not an incentive to have a bad team with terrible attendance. The real incentive is to have a farm system that generates a good MLB player or two every year, so the team never gets stuck with a bad contract.

    • Colorado Red

      But, that is why it takes several years of Tanking to build the farm system.

    • Bill

      I guess I define tanking as a team that is only committing resources to future years and not putting the best team on the field in the current year. By my definition, the Pirates, Marlins, Giants and D-backs are doing this in the NL and the Orioles, Blue Jays, White Sox, Tigers, Royals, Mariners and Rangers. Now in fairness, the White Sox and Giants were in on some of the bigger free agents. Still, that leaves 9 of 30 teams (30% of MLB’s franchises) entering the season playing for the future. The CBA won’t function as expected under these circumstances. To fix the problem requires leveling the resource capabilities across all franchises along with creating a structure that encourages teams to not routinely outspend an agreed to ceiling and to routinely spend at a minimum level each year. Currently, many teams overextend themselves in terms of dollars spent or prospects traded and require a few years for the contracts to expire and the next wave of talent to develop.

  6. IndyRedsFan

    I wonder if the 26 man roster will necessitate a change in the Rule 5 draft rules.
    With the extra spot, it would be easy for teams to take a player and just sit him for the season.
    That certainly doesn’t help the player’s development.

    Perhaps there needs to be a minimum number of plate appearances or innings pitched in order to maintain the players rights.

    • Nep O'Tism

      I think a Rule 5 guy would be fairly happy to sit on a major league bench a whole year if the alternative is being in the minors. The guy’s still getting a full year of major league experience, pay, and benefits.

      That’s over $500k for the year, getting a minimum of $34k/yr pension after retirement, getting lifetime medical coverage.

      Not to mention that even if you go back into AAA the next year, you make much more money for having major league experience. If you have at least 1 day of major league experience and are on the 40 man roster, you’re making over $80k/yr opposed to 40-man roster guys with zero major league experience who are making the $40k/yr range.

  7. sixpack2

    26 man roster, DH in the NL, any change to the current agreement are bargaining chips and should never be given away as you wait for the next agreement. That is if you run your Business correctly.

  8. sixpack2

    How do you stop the Teams with 250 Million cable contracts from buying any player they want? Caps, but players would never go for that as say a 170 million cap and 26 players would reduce what top players can receive. But that is exactly what would level the playing floor and then all the talk about tanking would disappear. Front office skill would come to the surface.

  9. Simon Cowell

    any logic to 26? Why not 27? 30? 40? In what ways will a 1 person added to the roster change the way the game is played?