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.

You can see the entire release here.

18 Responses

  1. ohiojimw

    At first blush, I like the rule changes. Most folks don’t come to games or tune in on TV to sit and watch managers manage; and, yet that’s what the proliferation of specialty pitchers has reduced the game to in too many instances. These changes should be a step in reining that process and maybe even starting to reverse it.

    I saw an early article today that the pitching limits would be 13 during the period of 26 man rosters and 14 when rosters were expanded to 28. I hope that gets rolled back at least 1 more in each situation when the number is finalized.

    • Doug Gray

      Those numbers of pitchers were the ones that were initially discussed, but it seems that no set number has been agreed to just yet.

  2. MK

    So this means a pitcher who enters a game gets the third out in one batter, has to remain in the game and potentially hit so he can start the next inning and face at least two more batters?

    I can see some of these changes coming up in next contract with possible strike potential. They wish to limit the number of pitchers who can earn a big league salary, pension and health benefits. By changing the September rules they are limiting the number of players who can get big league salary, benefits and service time.

    • Doug Gray

      No. He has to face 3 batters in an inning, or end the inning.

  3. Simon Cowell

    I live the rule changes. Since they are cracking down on pitcher times why aren’t they also cracking down on how often the batter steps out of the batter’s box? Some batters intentionally delay the pitcher in an effort to unnerve him. I think it is time for that type of drama to end.

    • Colorado Red

      Agree, Do not need to see a batter take a pitcher, and step out and adjust everything again.

  4. James K

    The two way player rule is problematic. A position player can’t pitch unless he qualifies as a two way player. But he can’t qualify as a two way player until after he has both both pitched and played a position a certain number of times. Right?

    • Simon Cowell

      So a rookie player can never be qualified as a two-way player. Yeah, that does seem to be problematic now that you mention it. It seems to be that the rule is fair the team should be able to prequalify 1 person per team regardless. That sounds more reasonable. Why should one team have an advantage simply by having had 20 starts?

    • Norwood Nate

      Position players can still pitch if the team is up/down by six runs, or if in extra innings I believe. But you raise a good point about how rookies, or even guys without a full season previously, would be able to qualify.

  5. Colorado Red

    Do not like most of these rule changes.
    Do like like the 3 batter rule.
    Why not stop the batter from stepping out of the box (except of a foul ball). That would save at least 10 minutes a game.

    • MuddyCleats

      Tend 2 agree Red. I like the safety rules – think a few more could be added. Other than that, I like going to the Ball Park and watching baseball – especially the game within the game things like what will the Mgr do in this situation. People who do, don’t really care how long it takes unless it is excessively slow beyond reason. The 20 sec pitch clock and staying in the batter’s box is already a part of baseball at various levels, but almost never enforced. I doubt ML Umps will go all out to clean things up; they haven’t thus far. MLB needs 2 expand their support of youth baseball & softball if they R interested in growing their fan base. Too often all the support is directed in the immediate area of the ML team or in bigger cities. There R a lot of little towns that could use help building better facilities and w/ equipment and uniforms

  6. sixpack2

    I really like the trade deadline. It will force all teams to just make the deal. The one problem I see is injury, Your SS get injured on August 1 and you do not have a good backup. That SS on another losing Team is on his last year contract. Now you will not be able to get him.

    • ohiojimw

      Teams will need to plan ahead more. Perhaps we will see additional veteran guys salted away for key position backups in the minors like “3rd” catchers are, on contracts that aren’t quite what they’d get if called up but still deep into 6 figure territory.

      I seem to recall several years back the Reds were supposedly paying a veteran catcher above the MLB minimum to be on call at AAA. Then when he called up the salary escalated up to the $1M neighborhood.

  7. Norwood Nate

    So if the Reds designate Lorenzen as a pitcher he can play in the field whenever his manager deems it possible? Because the restrictions are on position players coming into pitch, not pitchers playing in the field. But if he were a two way player he’d have to have 20 starts in the field (and at least 60 PA) ? Then just leave him designated as a pitcher and avoid restrictions and maintain flexibility.

    • ohiojimw

      Agree, I was wondering the same. Haven’t seen any clarification about it yet.

      Certainly in the NL, I’d think a pitcher would be eligible to bat whenever and where ever they wanted to use him because there is no DH (yet). But would he be allowed to play a field position in situations where position players could not pitch???

    • ohiojimw

      As Reds followers, we are more focused on the Reds and Michael Lorenzen in regards to these issues. However, pitchers are often among the best all around athletes on a team at high and sometimes even college levels. They also tend to spend a lot of time chasing fly balls in the outfield during batting practice as part of conditioning. So, it wouldn’t be surprising to me if many, perhaps even most teams have at least one guy on the pitching staff who could be prepped to be a more than passable defensive replacement as a corner OF. It comes down to a risk/ reward decision and whether the team wants to go down that path.

  8. Weird Reds fa from Brazil

    Regarding the 3 batter rule. Could the Reds employ something like this?

    – Lorenzen finishes the 7th inning, pitching;
    – For the 8th inning. they bring in Zach Duck to pitch to a LH batter, but he is replacing the RF and Lorenzen stays in the game, as a position player;
    – After retiring the first batter, Duck goes to RF and Lorenzen pitches to the RH batter;
    – Following that, Duck comes back again and retires the last batter of the inning

    They didnt make any substitutions, followed the 3 batter rule and were able to play the match up game

    Any toughts?