It’s been an unnecessarily weird and nebulous thing, fully anticipating that a trio of really significant rules changes were coming for the 2020 season … but not ever having it completely and officially confirmed as definite before the offseason began.
Specifically, the three rules we have been led to believe are coming: pitchers must face at least three batters (or reach the end of an inning) before being removed from a game, except in case of injury. Pitchers will now have their injured list minimum stay increased from 10 days to 15 days. And big league rosters will expand from 25 to 26 (and to 27 on doubleheader days).
These rules were announced last year as part of a range of rules changes kicking in for 2019, some of which – like these – were being delayed to 2020. We’ve expected them all along. But no one from the league has said, yes, officially, these are coming.
To that end, Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke about the anticipated rules changes at the Winter Meetings today, saying that they have been approved by the owners, and he “expects” them to be in place for the 2020 season:
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on the status of all of the proposed MLB rule changes and when they could go into effect: pic.twitter.com/U7iSNJSmIk
— 97.3 The Fan (@973TheFanSD) December 11, 2019
Commissioner Manfred said rule changes, including 3-batter minimum for relievers and limits on optioning players, are expected to be in place for the 2020 season. They have been approved by the owners.
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) December 11, 2019
So that’s … still kinda unnecessarily nebulous, but basically a yes? The owners approved the rules, the players tacitly agreed to them last year, so … can we just say it’s official? I’m gonna say it’s basically official at this point. Is that a thing? Basically official?
You can expect these rules changes are now in place. We’ve been writing about rosters as though they are anyway. To that end, roster-related impacts of the rules changes:
- The need for more complete relievers, as opposed to lefty specialists, who will now be much harder to carry and successfully deploy.
- Even more need for loads of optionable relievers and young pitchers who can come up and down to fill in for injuries as big league pitchers are pseudo-rested on the IL.
- Much more flexibility to carry an otherwise limited bat on the bench – i.e., you could carry a guy who has a little more of a specialized skill.
- More ability to take a player in the Rule 5 Draft and realistically retain him.
- Slightly more flexibility to sit guys out day-to-day before IL’ing them since you have a larger bench (I know, I know, Cubs fans will *love* to hear that one … ).