Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are nearing an agreement that could eliminate the August waiver trades, creating a single trade deadline on July 31. Players may still be placed on outright waivers and claimed by other teams after July 31, but cannot be traded. The traditional trade deadline will remain intact at July 31.
Nevertheless, the agreement jointly announced by the sides Thursday promises dramatic alterations to the game when implemented in 2019 and '20. Prize money for the players on the winning All-Star team will be increased in 2019.
Mound Visits: The maximum number of mound visits per team will be reduced from six to five. Starters for the Midsummer Classic will be chosen in a one-day "Election Day" by fans who will choose among three finalists at each position.
Both the Home Run Derby and All-Star tweaks come in an attempt to generate more buzz about the competitions while also encouraging the game's biggest stars to participate.
Additionally starting in 2020, active roster limits will expand from 25 to 26 players for Opening Day through August 31.
Home Run Derby: Total player prize money for the Home Run Derby will be increased to $2.5 million.
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Baseball hopes to speed up the game, so breaks between innings will be reduced from 2:05 to 2:00 in local games, and from 2:25 to 2:00 in national games.
For doubleheaders, the roster limit will go from 26 players to 27. Most notably, all pitchers will be required to pitch to a three-batter minimum or though the end of a half-inning, with exceptions for injuries or "incapacitating illness". A committee between the sides that will study the game is expected to make recommendations on the maximum number of pitchers allowed on the rosters.
The number of position players pitching could see a significant decrease as well.
The changes for the 2019 season won't be as drastic. The rule was implemented unilaterally by the Office of the Commissioner. Because so many relievers are needed to finish a game, managers can't have them face just one or two batters as frequently.
Injured List and Option Period for Pitchers: Subject to input from the joint committee, the minimum placement period for pitchers on the Injured List shall increase from 10 days to 15 days, and the minimum assignment period of pitchers who are optionally assigned to the minors will increase from 10 days to 15 days.
The big issue is whether the agreement made official Thursday provides a first step toward improved cooperation between Major League Baseball and the Players Association that leads to remedies on financial matters particularly worrisome to the union and the extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.