Before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was finalized late last year, there were a number of rules-related changes being discussed that didn’t ultimately make it into the agreement.
But, because certain changes can be implemented by agreement of the parties before the next CBA (or sometimes unilaterally by MLB), that doesn’t mean big changes are suddenly five years off.
For example, Ken Rosenthal reports that the sides are still open to a new 26-man big league roster (one more than the current 25-man roster), as well as a limit on roster expansion in September (28 players instead of the full 40-man roster). Those conversations are expected this offseason, which mean changes could come as soon as next season.
There are some complicating layers to be worked out, though, including how service time will be impacted in September (used to be that anyone called up on expanded rosters would get service time, but if it’s down from the full 4o to just 28, there could be a lot of service time lost), and how pace of play will be impacted by expanded rosters (more relievers could mean more pitching changes could mean more slowness).
Not that you’d root for long-term baseball changes to suit a near-term need, but the Cubs, with their roster depth, could certainly stand to have a 26th man right about now. Hopefully next year will suffice.