MLB Announces New Rule Changes for 2020 Season, Including 3-Batter Minimum


Changes are coming for Major League Baseball this season.

No, not those drastic playoff changes that were recently proposed, but rather new rules that had been in the works for some time, including the three-batter minimum and new active roster changes.

But don't worry, National League enthusiasts, the DH is not coming to your league — yet.

Here are the full list of the new rules you need to know for the 2020 season:

Three-Batter Minimum

Nationals manager Dave Martinez signals for a pitching change.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez signals for a pitching change. Photo credit Getty Images

Probably the most drastic new rule change, all pitchers will be required to face a minimum of three batters before they can be removed from the game. This includes the batter at bat (or any substitute batter), until such batters are put out or reach base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitchers sustains an injury or illness incapacitates him from further play as a pitcher, per MLB's wording. This rule will take effect in spring training on March 12.

New Roster Limits

• From Opening Day through Aug. 31, and including postseason games, all MLB active rosters will be permitted to carry 26 players instead of 25, while holding a maximum of 13 pitchers.

• From Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season (including tiebreaker games), rosters will expand to 28 players with a maximum of carrying 14 pitchers.

Two-Way Player Designation

Shohei Ohtani watches as he skies a ball toward the outfield.
Photo credit Getty Images

With the emergence two-way players, such as Shohei Ohtani, there is a specific designation for how they are counted toward the roster. Per MLB: Two-way players can appear as pitchers during a game and do not cont toward a club's pitcher limitations. To qualify as a two-way player, a player must accrue a.) at least 20 major league innings pitched, b.) at least 20 major league games started (as a position player or DH) with at least three plate appearance in each of those game, in either the current regular season or prior seasons (for 2020 only, this will include the 2019 and 2018 seasons). Teams must declare which player is a two-way player in advance of the game. Once declared, that designation will remain in effect for the remainder of the regular season and postseason.

Extra Player Rule

The previous "26th player" rule, which allowed teams to call up an extra player in situations such as a doubleheader, will be replaced with a "27th player" rule between the start of the season and Aug. 31. This player will not count toward the pitcher roster limits above, and is the only circumstance where a club may designate a 14th pitcher on the roster.

Injured List Reinstatement and Option Period for Pitchers

Pitchers or two-way players cannot be reinstated from the IL until a full 15 days have elapsed from the date of the initial placement for the injury (previously 10 days). The option period for pitchers also increases from 10 to 15 days.

Reduction in Challenge Time

In an under-the-radar wrinkle to the upcoming season, managers will now be limited to just 20 seconds to challenge a play instead of the previous 30 seconds. This may decrease the amount of replay reviews, and could also limit replay reviews to egregious mistakes.

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