MLB, players ponder rule changes

Thursday, February 7, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball and its players are discussing bold changes to spark the sport that include a three-batter minimum before a pitching change except at the start of an inning, a single trade deadline set before the All-Star break and expanded rosters.

The union renewed its push to extend the designated hitter to the National League. Management proposed expanding minimum time on the disabled list and optional assignments to the minor leagues to 15 days.

Some of the most interesting changes appear likely to be put off until 2020 or later.

RELIEF PITCHERS

Management proposed that a team not be allowed to bring in a reliever until the previous pitcher has faced three batters or an inning ends. There were 1,145 onebatter outings last season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, up from 1,119 the previous year.

DESIGNATED HITTER

The DH has been used in the AL since 1973, but the NL has never adopted the rule and Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he supports the status quo. The union proposed the DH start being used in the NL this year, but management in the past has considered the DH an economic issue, and Manfred has said that economic changes must wait for negotiations for a new labor contract that would start ahead of the 2022 season.

PITCH CLOCKS

Management again has proposed a pitch clock, and the union countered with limitations on its use.

MOUND VISITS WITHOUT PITCHING CHANGES

A limit of six began last season, and management wants to lower that to four this season and three in 2020.

TRADE DEADLINE

Players proposed a single trade deadline be instituted before the All-Star break to keep teams from dealing veterans when the clubs are out of the playoff picture.

ROSTER SIZE

Many have criticized the roster rules, which generally allow a team 25 active players through Aug. 31 and then 40 until the end of the season. Management proposed allowing a 26-man roster through Aug. 31, and up to 28 the rest of the season. The union countered that teams should be required to have 28 active from Sept. 1 on with a roster of four more players after the Triple-A postseason ends.

ANTI-TANKING

Concerned that teams with no playoff chances put less of an emphasis on winning to get higher selections in the amateur draft, the union proposed that a team with 90 or more losses in consecutive years have its highest selection in the next amateur draft dropped 15 slots and lose $2 million in international signing bonus pool money.

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