SARASOTA, Fla.—This week, Major League Baseball and the players association announced agreement on a series of rule changes for this year and next.
This year, the trading deadline will be July 31, and no trades with players who have passed through waivers will be permitted after that. Mound visits will be reduced from six to five.
Next year, roster size will increase from 25 to 26, and teams will carry 28 players after September 1 instead of up to 40.
Pitchers optioned to the minor leagues will have to stay 15 days instead of 10, and pitchers must face at least three batters.
Chris Davis is the Orioles’ player representative and discussed the new rules on Saturday morning.
Question– Were player representatives consulted about the new rules?
Answer- “Yes, over the last two or three years, we were in discussions, amongst ourselves, whether it’s through email, text or just talking on the phone to get guys ideas, their feelings and thoughts on proposed changes — things that we liked, things that we didn’t like, things that we thought would be beneficial to the players, the fans…I felt like the players have done a really good job over the last couple of years, staying together, staying on the same page, keeping the dialogue between each other open.”
Q– Is there a rule that you’re especially in favor of and any that you don’t much like?
A- “I like the changes to the roster in September. I fee like there are a lot of times when you see a team that’s trying to win the division or maybe even fighting for a playoff spot play a team that’s completely out of it, and that’s when you run into seeing 13 pitchers in a game.
“I think it’s going to be better for the game. I think it’s going to be better for the players. I think it’s going to give guys an opportunity to compete on a more realistic stage in a more realistic situation, and I like the protection for players that are optioned. It’s a good deal. I’m pleased with it so far and anxious to see how the rest of this turn out.”
Q- One of those rules could really affect you, forcing a pitcher to face three batters. That could eliminate a left-hander coming into the game just to face you.
A- “I think it’s good. I think it’s going to force teams to be a little bit deeper. I don’t know how relievers feel. I don’t know how the pitchers feel obviously because I’m a position player. They can’t feel good to come in there and get one out, one guy and then your day is over with. It kind of handcuffs the rest of the guys in the bullpen. It makes it, to me, a lot longer game. I’m looking forward to that. I’m sure I’ll see my share of lefty specialists. I guess they’ll have to face more than just me.”
Q- At the All-Star Game last year players association president Tony Clark complained that there was no dialogue between the players and MLB. In eight months, how did you get so far?
A- “A lot of work. I think a lot of the time, the issues that are really tough, the ones that are going to take a while to solve, are the ones that you least want to talk about, but I think the persistency of the union, kind of collectively getting together, presenting ideas to MLB and the owners. I think it was just a lot of hard work on the union’s part, on players’ part, to make sure that we’re on the same page, and continuing to communicate, to be upfront and open with our desires and things we want to see change or stay the same. It’s funny because it seemed like we were so far and then out of nowhere, it’s like, OK, we’ve reached an agreement. It’s kind of the way it goes sometimes. I think both sides got to a point where you have to give up something to get something, and that’s what happened.”
Q- Are you relieved that there’s not going to be a pitch clock?
A- “I didn’t think a whole lot about that. I know they’ve been doing that in our games at spring training, but, honestly, I feel like it’s more for the pitchers than for the hitters. We’ve had to get our foot in the [batter’s] box for years now. We understand that the game is changing, evolving and that MLB would like to see a little bit quicker pace to games played. But at the end of the day, it’s baseball. You can’t change the root of the game. I’m interested to see how it plays out. I’m glad there’s not going to be one, though.”
Q- Do you think this agreement will make it easier to find common ground on the tough economic issues?
A- “I’m hopeful that we can get some clarity on those issues. I think that this is a good starting point for both sides. I think it’s a good sign that says we’re willing to work with each other and willing to go the extra step to get things done, so I’m hopeful.”