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MLB Roundup 2/6: MLB and MLBPA exchange rule change proposals

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Rob Manfred
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Rule change proposals exchanged between league and union

Later on last night, after what was yet another very slow day in the baseball news world, Ken Rosenthal dropped a very interesting article with new reporting within. In it, The Athletic’s top reported indicated that MLB and the MLB Player’s Association were getting more serious about potential rule changes for the coming year, and both sides had ideas. Obviously, there is some bad blood between the two sides right now, so negotiations on any level are going to be tough. Still, they will continue to talk about this stuff over the next few days and weeks. As for the proposals themselves, MLB had a few. One was changing the length of the disabled list back to 15 days rather than the current ten, which we’ve discussed already. Additionally, they are asking for a new rule that forces a pitcher to remain in the game for three batters at minimum. On the other side, the Players Union has proposed a Universal DH as well as anti-tanking measures such as dropping teams in the draft if they don’t reach a certain win threshold. They also have an unspecified proposal to address service time manipulation.

There are some interesting proposals in here, and honestly I am either apathetic or am at least genuinely intrigued by all of these. The DH is something I’ve been in favor of for a long, long time and can’t imagine wanting to see pitcher’s hit. The issue with this one, though, is that they want to implement it for 2019. It’s not terribly detrimental if they were to do that, but it sure seems unfair to the NL to make that kind of change just before spring training begins. The three-batter rule is the most controversial, but I kind of like it. I’d need to hear more specifics, like how they’d deal with pitchers faking injuries, but I like the idea of relievers with more even platoon splits rising to the top. Also, for those who want more strategy in the game it would lead to more pinch hitting, and perhaps larger benches. The anti-tanking and service time manipulation ideas seem good in general, but it’s hard to speak too much of this since we don’t have specifics. The one rule change Rosenthal mentioned that I wasn’t sure of was the proposal to change roster sizes. The league apparently offered a 26th active roster spot, but also proposed a 28-man roster in September rather than 40. I go back and forth about how I feel about expanded rosters.

All in all, there’s at least some food for thought in here. Baseball fans are generally apprehensive about change, and that’s sort of natural, but change can obviously be good. Nothing succeeds without evolving. That said, there are legitimate arguments against all of these potential rule changes. Also, given the current relationship between the two sides, I’d be surprised if an agreement was reached. If it is not, Rob Manfred does have the power to unilaterally implement rule changes he proposed last year, such as the 20-second pitch clock. It will be interesting to see what happens here in the next few weeks.