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New MLB rule changes and how will they affect the Rangers?

New MLB rule changes and how will they affect the Rangers?

Last month, Major League Baseball announced some new rule changes that are in effect this season. Also, the league announced that a couple of rule changes that the Atlantic League will test out. Most of the rule changes this season are additions that fans weren’t begging for but are somewhat satisfied with. For the record, I am in favor of these new rule changes for 2019. However, if all the posted rules that the Atlantic League are trying out go into effect, more question marks will occur going into the 2020 season. Let’s take a look at these new rule changes.

  • Inning Breaks: Subject to discussions with broadcast partners, inning breaks will be reduced from 2:05 to 2:00 in local games, and from 2:25 to 2:00 in national games.  (The Office of the Commissioner retains the right to reduce the inning breaks to 1:55 in local and national games for the 2020 season.)

For the first few weeks, I’ve watched all Rangers broadcast coupled with a few national TV games (Braves/Phillies on FS1 and the Orioles/Yankees on opening day). I do see a small difference between innings and shorter commercial breaks. Another thing is that a few times per game you’ll notice advertisements in between at-bats (the NFL did that too this past season). The pace of the actual game hasn’t changed much this season, especially with Rangers games averaging about 3.5 hours for a vvarietyof reasons. However, it’ll be interesting when May through July comes on FOX’s prime time games.

  • Mound Visits:The maximum number of mound visits per team will be reduced from six to five.

I watched over 200 MLB games last season. There were only a few times I can recall a team ran out of mound visits (most of them were by former Angel’s manager Mike Scioscia who retired after last season). The league is looking to cut the mound visits even further, but hey it’s a work in progress. Of course, injury delays are automatically waived but could be an issue early for the Rangers. It’ll be interesting to see this new coaching staff adapt. On opening night, the Cubs nearly ran out of mound visits before the sixth inning even started. The mound visit change may create a little more strategy, but not much difference.

  • Trade Deadline:The trade deadline will remain July 31st; however, trade waivers will be eliminated.  Players may be placed and claimed on outright waivers after July 31st, but players may not be traded after that date.

There is still debate on whether this will help or hurt the Rangers. What these new rule states are that the August waiver trade deadline is no more and after July 31st, teams cannot make any trades. What this new rule means is that a team has to release the player through waivers, they can’t make a deal with another club. The Rangers could benefit from this if teams are more aggressive at the trade deadline since it’ll be their last shot to make a move for the rest of the season. That being said, hesitation could come from teams to make deals on July 31st. It’ll be difficult to gauge how the waiver deadline removal will affect the Rangers.

  • Joint Committee: MLB and the MLBPA will form a joint committee to study other potential changes.

There’s a focus group formed for upcoming changes. That’s all you need to know.

  • All-Star Game:

    • 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 10thinning of the All-Star Game, and each subsequent inning, with a runner on second base (re-entry substitutions allowed for runners).

The new All-Star selection is an incredible idea. First, the players will choose the candidates where the fans vote on those candidates. It presents players who are not in primary markets an opportunity to start the All-Star game and allow for more recognition. It also provides fans a chance to decide; therefore they are not in the dust. As stated, MLB will supply more details as the season advances but the All-Star game and All-Star week sound more enjoyable, even if few Rangers represent in Cleveland. Since the contest doesn’t mean much, starting extra innings with a runner in scoring position will speed the game up and hopefully complete it quicker. My only question is why this didn’t occur earlier?

  • Home Run Derby: Total player prize money for the Home Run Derby will be increased to $2.5 million.  The winner of the Home Run Derby will receive $1 million.

The home run derby incentive is another decision by Major League baseball that makes All-Star week better. This new rule gives more motivation for guys like Joey Gallo to participate which is what fans of the game want. When there’s a derby that leans entirely on power hitters and their ability to knock a ball far out of the yard, you want the best of the best. I do believe a couple of guys will turn it down still, but I do think it’ll motivate more players to take part. I’m looking at you from below Joey Gallo (he’s like a foot taller than me).

Changes MLB is looking to make for the 2020 season, currently being tested by the Atlantic League:

  • Active Roster Provisions:

    • The active roster limit from Opening Day through August 31stand in Postseason games will increase from 25 to 26, and the minimum number of active players will increase from 24 to 25.  The current Major League Rules allowing for a 26th player for doubleheaders will be amended to allow for a 27th

    • Elimination of 40-man active roster limit in September.  From September 1stthrough the end of the championship season, all Clubs must carry 28 players on the active roster.

    • The number of pitchers a Club may carry on the active roster will be capped at a number determined by the joint committee.  Clubs must designate each of its players as either a pitcher or a position player prior to each player’s first day on the active roster for a given season.  That designation will remain in effect for the player, and cannot change, for the remainder of the championship season and Postseason.  No player on the active roster other than those designated as pitchers by the Club may appear in a championship season or Postseason game as a pitcher except in the following scenarios:

      • 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.

I love these new rules. Adding an extra player doesn’t change much. Plus, the doubleheader rules stay the same where a team can bring up an extra player. September is when the extreme change comes. A forty man roster is ridiculous with the number of pitching changes and substitutions. For rebuilding teams, it’s similar to a Spring Training 2.0. This new roster rule essentially rewards two players per club for an astounding minor league season. I know all players that get called up covet the moment, but I think it sweetens the moment if you’re chosen of the two. I’m on the fence of the pitcher limit. Teams can adjust their roster anyway they can. Now if your short position players than that’s the manager and GM’s fault.

Where the “two-way player” rule may come into effect is for guys like Matt Davidson who’s currently in the minors. The Rangers are looking to get Davidson some experience on the mound, but it’s a wait and see for more clarification. The last part of the rule usually doesn’t exist in this day of the game. The only times where you see a position player pitch is in a complete blowout or extra innings. In the past ten years, I believe I’ve seen it one time where it was a six or less run lead in regulation, with a position player on the mound. To answer the question, no MLB won’t eradicate a position player pitching for a team down fifteen in the eighth or ninth, that fun still is accepted.

  • Minimum Number of Batters for Pitchers: The Office of the Commissioner will implement an amended Official Baseball Rule 5.10(g) requiring that starting pitchers and relief pitchers must pitch to either a minimum of three batters or the end of a half-inning (with exceptions for incapacitating injury or illness).  The Players Association has agreed that it will not grieve or otherwise challenge the Office of the Commissioner’s implementation of the amended Rule 5.10(g).

The pitcher limit rule is the most popular and controversial rule. Honestly, I see both viewpoints on this rule. On the first hand, it eliminates matchup pitchers and forces lefties to face righties and vice versa. On the “for” side, I agree that these are all big league pitchers and should handle all big league hitters. However, there are games where a pitcher just doesn’t have his full arsenal of pitches that night, therefore is completely wild. For a ring of pitchers that throw hard if he’s wild and has no idea where the ball is going that creates a safety issue for the hitter. You’re also projecting if this instance happens in September, in a pennant race. This rule will be the one most talked about in future meetings.

  • 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.

MLB is looking to drop the ten-day injured list and bring it back to fifteen days. Same goes for optioned pitchers. MLB felt that teams abused the ten-day injured list the past few years. Therefore, MLB is changing the injured list back to fifteen days. It does create a little strategy to keep a day-to-day player on the bench for a couple of weeks. However, the minimal injury list moves back to a few years ago.

These rule changes are just the beginning of the changes upcoming in baseball. Of course, there are always talks of banning strategic like the shift, adding a pitch clock, etc. There is one thing that won’t change, the love of the game.



Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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