MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to a deal with some notable changes coming in the near future according to ESPN.
The long-awaited MLB/MLBPA deal is done, sources tell ESPN, and includes a single trade deadline, an All-Star Game Election Day, expanded rosters in 2020 and, most important, a pledge to start bargaining over fundamental economic issues. News @ESPN: https://t.co/b7yvvVdxMd
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 14, 2019
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.
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.