After an offseason that drew stark criticism for its slow-moving free agent market, MLB announced some major changes to its sport in 2019 and 2020, with the possibility of many more to come, in a new agreement struck with the MLB Players Association, per ESPN.
Though the current MLB collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until 2021, the two sides have also agreed to start having conversations as soon as possible in efforts to avoid any sort of future strike, and will touch on some of the games most “fundamental” economic issues, such as the rumored collusion that took place with owners and the two biggest free agents from this past winter, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
In the more immediate future, changes are coming to the All-Star Game, the trade deadline and how many batters a pitcher must face before he can be removed from the game. In hopes of securing more marquee names for the Home Run Derby, MLB will now offer a $1 million prize to the winner and $2.5 million in total prize money for the event, starting this season. They will also hold an “election day,” where the top three All-Star Game vote-getters will participate in a “one-day election” to determine the top overall All-Star.
A few major changes are coming to the regular season in 2020. The league will consolidate its trade deadline to a single day, July 31st, instead of letting teams negotiate into August after the non-waiver deadline, as has been customary. And in another effort to speed up pace of play, pitchers will be required at face at least three batters before being removed from the game, eliminating the practice of bringing in relievers for a single batter, or sometimes, a single pitch. Regular season rosters will also expand from 25 to 26.