The 26th roster spot in MLB recently was added for doubleheaders, but an impending rule change heading into 2020 will alter it even more.
A's vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane is torn about the looming rule change. He's a fan of flexibility, but also appreciates the break it could get for the players.
"The season is long and it's grueling for a player," Beane told reporters at Winter Meetings last week. "I like that we -- out of the off days that we get, I thought that was great, I think it actually helped us a lot and I don't think we stress the athletes as much -- I think the 26th man would be part of that as well -- so I like that."
"But again, I would prefer that you're not limited to the position, you know? I like flexibility and any rule that limits our flexibility, I'm not as much in favor of."
The 40-man active roster for September (or September call-ups, as the cool kids call it) likely also will be eliminated. From Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season, all clubs must carry 28 players.
That could be part of the lack of flexibility part Beane doesn't like.
Another part of the impending rule change will be the number of pitchers a club can carry on the active roster, which will be capped in 2020. Major League Baseball has yet to announce what that number will be.
The teams must designate each player as either a pitcher or a position player prior to each player's first day in the big leagues that season, which cannot be changed for the remainder of the year.
There will also be a change in the minimum number of days a player will need to remain in the minor leagues after being optioned from the big league club. This will increase from 10 to 15.
As of Opening Day this season, roster sizes through Aug. 31 will increase from 25 to 26. The minimum number of players on the roster will increase from 24 to 25, and roster sizes for doubleheaders will increase from 26 to 27.
You still with me?
Furthermore, there are a few position player scenarios in which they will not be allowed to pitch (via MLB):
• They are designated as a "Two-Way Player." A player can only qualify for this designation if he accrues at least 20 Major League innings pitched and at least 20 Major League games started as a position player or designated hitter (with at least three plate appearances in each of those games) in the current or prior season.
• A game goes into extra innings.
• A player's team is losing or winning by more than six runs when he enters as a pitcher.
This could help speed up the game slightly which, as we know, is something commissioner Rob Manfred is a fan of. It will be interesting to see how the impending changes affect the A's in 2020, no matter what Beane thinks of the rule.