Major League Baseball and its players are discussing bold changes to spark the sport that include a three-batter minimum before a pitching change except at the start of an inning, a single trade deadline set before the All-Star break and expanded rosters.
The union renewed its push to extend the designated hitter to the National League, suggested amateur-draft incentives for winning records and penalties for losing records and proposed a change in service-time rules that would lead to faster free agency for top rookies held in the minor leagues early in the season. Management proposed expanding minimum time on the disabled list and optional assignments to the minor leagues to 15 days.
Some of the most intriguing changes appear likely to be delayed until 2020 at the earliest:
• Management proposed that a team not be allowed to bring in a reliever until the previous pitcher has faced three batters or an inning ends. There were 1,145 one-batter outings last season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, up from 1,119 in 2017.
• The DH has been used in the AL since 1973, but the NL has not adopted the rule. Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he supports the status quo. However, the union proposed the DH start being used in the NL this year.
• Management again has proposed a pitch clock, and the union countered with limitations on its use.
• A limit of six mound visits without pitching changes began last season, and management wants to lower that to four this season and three in 2020. The union countered with five this year and, if the average time of a nine-inning game is longer this year than last, then four in 2020.
• Players proposed a single trade deadline be instituted before the All-Star break to keep teams from dealing players when the clubs conclude their chances of a playoff berth have dwindled. The deadline for trades without waivers has been July 31 since 1985. Players who clear waivers can be dealt after the deadline, but must be in an organization by Aug. 31 to be eligible for the postseason.
• Roster rules allow 25 active players through Aug. 31 and then 40 until the end of the season. Management proposed allowing a 26-man roster, including a 12-pitcher maximum, through Aug. 31, and then up to 28 for the rest of the season. The union countered that each team should be required to have 28 active from Sept. 1 on.
• Worried baseball might lose athletes such as A’s outfielder Kyler Murray, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, players proposed two-sport athletes be able to sign major-league contracts. Since 2012, all amateur free agents have had to sign minor-league deals.
• The pitcher’s mound was dropped from 15 inches to 10 for the 1969 season, and management wants to establish a committee to study whether it should be lowered again. The union wants the committee to include active players.
Briefly: Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and Washington agreed to a $1.3 million, one-year contract. … Kansas City reportedly agreed to a $2.2 million, one-year deal with reliever Brad Boxberger. … The Cubs announced minor-league deals with 12 players, including former Giants right-hander George Kontos.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/3-batter-minimum-early-trade-deadline-DH-13595941.php.