MLB changes All-Star selection process and pace-of-play rules for 2019

More significant changes will come in 2020.

Rob Manfred MLB Baseball
Some of the rule changes for MLB's 2019 and 2020 seasons are aimed at increasing the pace of play. –The Associated Press

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — In a tangible sign of cooperation between the commissioner’s office and a skeptical players’ association, MLB and the union announced several rule changes Thursday that will affect the trading deadline, the All-Star Game, roster size and on-field strategy.

The rules demonstrate the league and the players were willing to modify their current collective bargaining agreement even though it does not expire until after the 2021 season.

The changes will result in immediate differences to the sport this season, including a single trading deadline July 31.

The league also overhauled the selection process for the All-Star Game starters and added a $2.5 million pool of bonus money for the home run derby, including $1 million for the winner.

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The All-Star starters (non-pitchers) will be selected in two phases: a primary round and a designated “Election Day.” In the first round, fans will vote for the starters at each position, as they have for many years. Then, on a day in late June or early July, fans will vote again, choosing from the top three vote-getters at each position in the initial round (or top nine for outfielders).

Other changes for this season further Commissioner Rob Manfred’s goal of speeding up the pace of play.

Pace-of-play rules for 2019 will not include a pitch clock, but will include a reduction in mound visits, from six to five, and in the time between innings. While the change remains to be reviewed with the holders of broadcast rights, those breaks would be reduced to two minutes for all regular-season games.

The more significant changes will begin in 2020. Rosters will increase by one slot, to 26 players, through the end of August. In September, though, the maximum roster size will be reduced to 28, from 40.

Teams will have a limit, still to be determined, on the number of pitchers allowed on the active roster — and all pitchers will have to pitch to a minimum of three batters, or to the end of a half-inning.

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The changes for 2020 also include restrictions on position players pitching, limiting those appearances to extra innings or games in which the pitcher’s team trails (or leads) by at least six runs. The injured list for pitchers will also be returned to 15 days, from 10.