Sports

MLB Announces Multiple Rule Changes for 2019 Season, Even More for 2020

Major League Baseball will impose several new rules this season, including a few that address one of MLB’s biggest issues — the pace of play.

One of the changes coming for this season is shorter inning breaks. They will be reduced to two minutes in local games (where they were 2:05) and national games (where they were 2:25), MLB.com reported.

For the 2020 season, the commissioner’s office has the right to reduce inning breaks to 1:55 in local and national games. That would cut game lengths in national games by four to five minutes.

Another time-saving measure is to reduce the number of mound visits. Each team will only get five mound visits per game, down from six.

The 2019 season also will see the elimination of the August waiver trade period. Now, the July 31 trade deadline will be the only deadline. Players may put on waivers — and claimed off waivers — after July 31, but trades will not be allowed after July 31.

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Then there are a few changes related to the All-Star Game weekend. There will be two rounds of fan voting — a “primary round” followed by an “election day” in late June or early July. On that day, the field will be whittled down to the top three vote-getters at each position in each league. Fans will then be given one day to vote on the starters from that list of finalists.

Also, there is a change to the midsummer classic that relates to extra innings. If the All-Star Game goes to 10 innings, as the last two have, each half inning will begin with a runner on second. This goes for every extra inning that’s played.

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Finally, the winner of the Home Run Derby will get a raise — winning $2.5 million, up from $1 million.

The league announced even more changes for 2020.

Most notable, perhaps, is the institution of a three-batter minimum for pitchers. Starters and relievers will be required to pitch to a minimum of three batters or to the end of a half-inning. There will be exceptions for injuries and illness. This will end the practice of teams changing pitchers every batter to face lefties and righties.

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Next year will also see changes to roster sizes. From Opening Day through Aug. 31, teams can carry 26 players, up from 25. Also, the minimum number of active players will go up to 25 from 24. For doubleheaders, teams can carry 27 players, up from 26.

After Sept. 1, all clubs will be allowed to carry 28 players. This is down significantly from the current 40-man active roster from September 1 until the end of the regular season.

The number of pitchers on the active roster will also change, but the number has not yet been determined. Teams must designate each player as either a pitcher or a position player and must stick with that for the whole year.

However, under certain circumstances, a team can use a “two-way player” designation. This might as well be called the Shohei Ohtani rule. To achieve two-way player status, a player must pitch at least 20 innings and start at least 20 games as a position player or designated hitter — with at least three plate appearances in each of those games — in either the current or the prior season.

Position players without that designation can pitch only in extra innings or in a game where their team is losing or winning by more than six runs when the pitcher enters the game.

Finally, for 2020, MLB has set the minimum time a player spends on the injured list at 15 days, up from 10. Also, the minimum assignment period for pitchers who are assigned to the minors will increase to 15 days from 10. It had been 15 days for both of these instances through the 2016 season when it was reduced to 10.

These rules were all agreed to by both MLB and the MLB Players Association, according to MLB.com. They are still subject to ratification by all 30 teams. The MLB and MLBPA will form a joint committee to study other possible rule changes.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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