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The good and bad of MLB’s new rule changes

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TSN Baseball Insider


Major League Baseball and the Players Association have agreed on a set of significant rule changes that are set to roll out in 2019 and 2020.

Here are the changes to be implemented in 2019:

Single trade deadline
The waiver trade period has been eliminated, which means that the only trade deadline is July 31. No trades can be made after that date for the remainder of the season.

This means that teams on the bubble have to decide whether they are in or out of contending for the postseason with a third of the season remaining. Clubs who aren’t sure whether they are truly in the playoff race will likely take the conservative route and now become sellers. So, an unintended consequence is that it will likely reduce the number of teams making a playoff push. That’s not a good thing.

Another consequence of the elimination of waiver trades is that it places limits on a club’s ability to fortify itself in case of injuries that occur during the final two months of the season. If a team loses its catcher to injury, their only recourse will be to call up an inexperienced player from the minor leagues. Teams will have to have their depth completely in place by July 31 which is not always possible.

Also, if a team that is a seller at the deadline has an injured player as of July 31, that team may be stuck with that player. For instance, the Toronto Blue Jays could not have traded Josh Donaldson last year on July 31 because he had not started playing games due to his calf injury. It wasn’t until the end of August that he was healthy enough to play and be evaluated by the Cleveland Indians. The Jays would have been stuck with Donaldson if this rule had been in place last year.

Shorter breaks between innings
Owners are putting some skin in the game when it comes to pace of play. It’s about time. The time between innings will be cut to two minutes (down from 2:05 in local games and 2:25 in national games) which reduces the amount of TV ad sales opportunities. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred also has the right to cut the breaks to 1:55 in 2020, if he deems it appropriate as well.

Mound visits
The number of visits to the mound is reduced by one from six to five. This is a pace-of-play initiative, hoping to reduce the game-stopping visits to the mound by catchers,........