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Report: MLB Changes Roster Rules for 2020

MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to a deal with some notable changes coming in the near future according to ESPN.

Among the changes agreed to is roster sizes will expand from 25 to 26 players starting in the 2020 season. September roster expansions will also be limited to 28 players instead of 40.

Part of the agreement also states that pitchers must face three batters before being removed from the game.

Rule analysis

These rules are likely connected to each other. Commissioner Rob Manfred has been trying to speed games up and the three batter rule will speed up games slightly. Teams likely requested the extra roster spot with the argument that forcing pitchers to face three batters would tire out their bullpen quicker. It also benefits the players because it creates 30 more jobs and it gives teams more roster flexibility.

Decreasing September rosters from 40 to 28 is a major change that only affects one month of the season. Games in September will be quicker but teams won’t call up as many prospects to make their debuts. It’s a win-lose situation. September games often times get too long with all the in-game moves but it was always exciting to see prospects get called up to see what they can do. 40 players was too many to allow but a number in the 30-32 range would’ve been better.

It does seem like the September roster decrease is a little pointless with the three batter rule for pitchers but that’s its own debate.


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How it affects the Dodgers

Overall, the roster rule changes benefit the Dodgers more than it does most teams. With so much depth in their system, having an extra spot for a talented player will really appeal to them. It will be interesting to see if they go with five bench players and eight relievers or four bench players and nine relievers. Either way, it gives President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman more flexibility to construct the roster.

Related to the September roster rules, it is disappointing because, in recent years, the Dodgers have utilized it to debut their top prospects. Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Walker Buehler, and Alex Verdugo all made their debuts in September. With the new rule, it’s more likely players will have to wait until the following year to get called up.

Written by Blake Williams

I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Journalism from Los Angeles Pierce College and now I'm working towards my Bachelor's at Cal State University, Northridge. I'm currently the managing editor for the Roundup News and a writer for Dodgers Nation. Around the age of 12, I fell in love with baseball and in high school, I realized my best path to working in baseball was as a writer, so that's the path I followed. I also like to bring an analytics viewpoint to my work and I'm always willing to help someone understand them since so many people have done the same for me. Thanks for reading!

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  1. I like the expanded roster. I think the 3 batter rule will speed up the games. Watching two or three different pitchers warm up in an inning is tedious, boring and takes a lot of dead time. May help the offense as the pitcher may come in wild or ineffective and get hit around.

    It may change some of the mix of BP pitchers if they must be more efficient against left and right handed hitters.

    I agree with the writer in that 40 guys in September was too many 30-32 is more reasonable as fans we enjoy seeing the young potential stars debut.

  2. My big Question is concerning that 3 batter rule. Again, what if a reliever gets the side out facing only 1 or 2 batters. If his spot in the order is due up in the other half of an inning (because the NL still does not have the DH) does that mean that said reliever must bat, there by wasting an AB for an automatic out instead of putting in a pinch hitter? Then does he have to go back out there the next inning to meet his 3 batter minimum? If someone here has an answer let me know.

    • That’s a great question. If they were smart they would make an exception for that specific scenario

  3. I like it, but the September limit should be 30, not 28. This kind of defeats the purpose of September callups – to look at players who have finished their minor league season, and see how they might perform, even in just a limited basis, at the major league level. So, 30, not 28. Otherwise, it is good.

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