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Reports: Universal DH, Three-Batter Minimum for Pitchers Could Happen This Season

The reported negotiations are unusual since MLB and the Players Association are currently in the midst of a collective bargaining agreement

February 06, 2019 - 8:19 am

There are reports of major changes that could be coming to Major League Baseball as soon as this season, which is now less than two months away. Major League Baseball and the Players Association are discussing rules changes such as adding the designated hitter in the National League, a 20-second pitch clock and three batter minimum for pitchers.

Those rules may all go into effect at some point this season if agreed upon. The possible changes were first reported by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and ESPN's Jeff Passan, which you should read in full. They say, the DH rule for both leagues could begin in 2019 with only Interleague games (even in the NL ballparks), but the rule to force all pitchers to face a three-batter minimum would begin immediately.

Related: Adam Wainwright Suggests A Few MLB Rule Changes

"The union did not strongly oppose the idea, according to sources, instead suggesting it preferred the implementation to be delayed until 2020 rather than 2019," wrote Passan.

But here are the main details, with reaction courtesy of 937thefan.radio.com

* A three-batter minimum for pitchers. Wow, this would eliminate the "get one guy out" specialists and also serve to try to speed up the game for some managers who seemingly feel the need to blow through their bullpen each night. I think I like this proposal barring there is a stipulation for a pitcher who gets injured, which I am sure there would be. I'm also guessing there would need to be a stipulation for pitchers who end an inning after facing just one or two hitters. 

* A universal designated hitter. Yes, yes and more yes. Not only would that bring uniformity to both leagues (and the AL will never drop the DH) but it will also get rid of the nonsensical times all summer that I need to watch National League pitchers attempt to hit who really have absolutely no care at all about hitting. 

* A single trade-deadline before the All Star Break. Eh, I don't know. Although players wouldn't be such short-term rentals (they'd still be rentals) and guys on an expiring contract would be with their "new" team for a longer period of time, I wonder how many teams looking for players will be scared off by having to pick up a bigger salary for longer. On top of that, is the trade deadline in MLB really broken as it is? Seems to me it is a very exciting time. 

* A 20-second pitch clock. Again, I'm on the fence here. If you want to go 30 seconds, I'm all in. Or, if you want to institute a pitch clock be sure from the very first day to enforce it to the letter of the law. I guess a 20-second pitch clock is something I would need to see in action before really coming to any sort of decision on if I like it or not.

Related: If Cardinals Players Were MLB Commissioner for a Day They'd Change...

* Draft advantages for winning teams and penalties for losing teams. Hmmmmm, pretty curious here. On the surface wouldn't this just expand the divide between the good teams and the bad teams? But, digging into it, it might force the bad teams --- or ones that don't spend as much as they can or should --- to up the ante because they know they could be headed for an even deeper rut if they don't try with all they have to win each season. 

* A study to lower the mound. The mound is just fine. Tell hitters to step away from the "all or nothing" proposition in baseball where they want to hit a home run or are OK with a strikeout and maybe that will fix things more. We shouldn't dumb down the pitchers, or lower the mound, because hitters don't value getting on base or non-extra base hits as much anymore. 

* The expansion of rosters to 26 men with a 12-pitcher maximum. Sure, let's do it. I'm just fine with that as it would especially come into play in extra-inning games and tight games in late innings.