Major League Baseball will move to a single trade deadline and an All-Star Game Election Day beginning this season, according to multiple reports.
In addition, team rosters will expand from 25 to 26 beginning in 2020.
An announcement is set to come Thursday per the reports.
The league and MLB Players Association are reportedly hammering out some deals ahead of the current collective bargaining agreement that ends in December 2021, when negotiations on the foundations of the economics of the game are expected to be more contentious.
Addressing stagnant free agent market
The traditional non-waiver deadline for trading was July 31, but waiver-wire deals after that date were frequent as teams made upgrades to their rosters throughout August.
But the union wants to give teams the incentive to be more proactive in the offseason after two years of a stagnant free-agent market. And it was an area — as well as roster expansion — the league was willing to cede ground on to an absolute deadline of July 31.
The Election Day move is intended to help baseball better market the game and players.
The top three vote-getters at each position in fan balloting will be up for a one-day online vote to be a starter. In the age of social media, the potential buzz is obvious and should help players, should they so desire, show more of their personalities to get the votes.
On the roster expansion, teams will only be allowed to carry 13 pitchers after the expansion to 26, and September call-ups from the minor leagues will be greatly curtailed, with September rosters being limited to 28 players and 14 pitchers.
Two items not yet agreed upon by the union that could still be unilaterally imposed by MLB is a pitch clock, which could have been put in place this season, and a three-batter minimum for pitchers brought into a game, barring injury. That could be mandated as soon as 2020.
Now the heavy lifting begins to get a deal in place before the current CBA expires.
Among the points of contention will be teams manipulating the service time of young players to lengthen the time before they are eligible for arbitration, the luxury tax threshold and the collection of biometric data on players.
–Field Level Media