Major league players and team owners have agreed to significant off-field rules changes and are planning to begin labor negotiations more than two years before the current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire, ESPN.com reported Wednesday.
The most significant changes, which ESPN reported are expected to be announced Thursday, include:
— Increasing active rosters from 25 players to 26 from Opening Day through Aug. 31, and reducing the roster maximum from 40 to 28 from Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season. Clubs will not be able to carry more than 13 pitchers on their rosters before Sept. 1, or more than 14 pitchers from Sept. 1 on.
— Eliminating the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline and employing just the current July 31 nonwaiver deadline.
— Requiring pitchers to face a minimum of three batters.
— Limiting the number of position players who also pitch and setting limits on when such “two-way players” can pitch.
— Determining the All-Star Game starters through a one-day election. Fans would choose among the top three vote-getters at each position from earlier balloting.
— Awarding a $1 million prize to the winner of the Home Run Derby.
The roster and pitcher changes will take place in 2020; the trade deadline and All-Star changes will be implemented this year, sources told ESPN.
The Athletic reported earlier Wednesday that baseball would soon have just one trade deadline.
The early start to labor talks is a product of players’ dissatisfaction with owners. They are peeved that the free-agent market has tightened over the past two offseasons, with smaller contracts overall and longer negotiation periods. They also want clubs to stop manipulating service-time rules to gain additional contractual control over top prospects and, potentially, reduce their earning potential.
The current CBA is set to expire in December 2021.