Major League Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in just two weeks, and, while we haven’t been given any overt reasons for concern about the two sides working something out, the hour is growing late.
We know that the new CBA will make changes – perhaps dramatic changes – to things like draft picking compensation, international talent acquisition, and pace of play. But one area we’ve not yet heard much about is the construction of a team’s roster, outside of stray – and probably futile – cries for the designated hitter to come to the National League.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the owners and players are discussing an increase of the 25-man roster to 26 players. Teams would be able to hold onto a little more depth, and more fringy guys would get a chance at a big league career.
Further, when September roster expansion comes around, teams would not be able to bring up anyone on the full 40-man roster – instead, only 28 players could be included for a given game (though the players could be swapped around throughout the month of September).
In other words, you’d still have September call-ups from the 40-man roster, but not everyone who was “called up” would actually be available for a given game, unless he was one of the 28 designated players that day.
You can see why players would like the addition of another big league roster spot, even at the expense of service time for some players in September. The one obvious concern here is that a 26-man roster is going to mean more relievers and more pitching changes (we don’t even have to debate it – we know that would be the case). So, then, if MLB wants not to complicate its pace of play concerns, I would submit that a limit on reliever usage (for example: a reliever entering the game must face at least two batters) would be an excellent addition to the rules in tandem with a larger roster. Rosenthal suggests we might not see a rule change like that in the CBA, but the rules could still be changed thereafter outside of the CBA, itself.
For more details, check out Rosenthal’s report.