Billy Beane

A's Billy Beane conflicted over proposed rule changes to MLB rosters

A's Billy Beane conflicted over proposed rule changes to MLB rosters

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?

[RELATED: Beane doesn't like proposed three-batter minimum rule]

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.

Why A's Billy Beane doesn't like proposed three-batter minimum rule

Why A's Billy Beane doesn't like proposed three-batter minimum rule

In an effort to speed up the game, or in this case, reduce the number of pitching changes in hopes of cutting down the average time per game, MLB plans to institute the three-batter minimum rule change for the 2020 season.

Although not yet made official, the revision will be a requirement for pitchers to face "either a minimum of three batters or to the end of a half-inning," according to MLB.com.

A's vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane is not exactly on board. 

"I'm not a particular fan of that rule if they put it in, but I think -- anything when we start moving flexibility -- I just don't think it's a good idea period, but that's just my personal feelings," Beane said at the Winter Meetings last week. 

Will this affect anything? Well yes and no. If it were to go in MLB's favor, a few minutes would be shaved off a game. 

As MLB.com's Mike Petriello pointed out, the increase in relievers computes to an increase in pitching changes -- which makes sense these days -- those relievers are getting valued as the years go by.

Game-by-game, the changes don't appear to make a difference, but collectively it could make a dent. But just as the intentional walk rule was implemented, it might not make a considerable overall change.

The A's, along with every other MLB team, values depth in their pitching staff for those case-by-case scenarios which are why they staff as many relievers as they do. Beane likes the idea of having his options open and using those options as the team sees fit.

The A's recently re-signed lefty Jake Diekman to a two-year contract, which has him set to come out of the bullpen for a while as well as continuing the dominant talents of Yusmeiro Petit and Liam Hendriks.

The team said farewell to Blake Treinen who, while he remained in talks with the A's, decided to head to the Dodgers in free agency. The 2018 All-Star didn't put up even close to the numbers last season as he did in the year prior, so the goodbyes were not that difficult.

Oakland remains on the hunt for more bullpen arms.

Perhaps this new rule could impact a pitcher who might dominate in a part of his splits -- which could create something as serious as costing jobs for pitchers. But not all of them are worried about it.

"I don't mind it because I get lefties and righties out pretty evenly," Chicago White Sox reliever Evan Marshall told NBC Sports California. "It's going to affect righties that get torched by lefties and lefties that get torched by righties." 

[RELATED: Why A's fans will love prospect Buddy Reed]

Former MLB reliever Brad Ziegler sees the impact it could make on the game, however.

"I think it will speed up the game," Ziegler told NBC Sports California. "It's definitely going to hurt some players' value, though."

Marcus Semien reiterates hope to stay with A's as MLB free agency looms

Marcus Semien reiterates hope to stay with A's as MLB free agency looms

Marcus Semien was both quantity and quality in 2019.

The A's shortstop started all 162 games and was a finalist for both American League MVP and Gold Glove Awards. He also was named to the second-team "All-MLB team," which was announced Tuesday.

It only raises the value for one of Oakland's longest-tenured players, who is expected to receive a notable raise in his final year of arbitration.

“But going forward, we all know what comes after that,” Semien told NBC Sports California in an exclusive interview Tuesday at the MLB Winter Meetings. “That is the business side. Of course, I love winning, love being home and love my teammates.  Love going to battle with guys who share the same qualities as me.”

Semien doesn’t hide his preference to stay in Oakland long term: “Of course, that would be ideal," he said.

The shortstop also said his camp wouldn’t want to currently interfere with VP Billy Beane and GM David Forst continuing to build the team before re-approaching a long term deal.

“As we approach Spring Training, we’ll see what happens,” Semien said.

Here's what else Semien touched upon during our conversation.

Success In A New Role

It’s easy to forget last season was actually a transitional one for Semien, who had previously been hitting in the bottom third of the lineup before becoming the became the regular leadoff guy.

“The amount of at-bats is a big one for me," Marcus said. “The more at-bats I get, I feel the better I get."

Batting first also helped him gain a better grasp on games.

“Most of the time it gets you in the rhythm of the game right away. I think in years past, I hit seventh, eighth or ninth, sometimes you don’t get your first chance to bat until the third inning. It’s harder to get into a rhythm, so I tried to take advantage of that this year."

Power or consistency

In his first four seasons with Oakland, Marcus' bat always was a strong point, through either consistency or power. In 2019, he excelled in both regards, clubbing 33 homers and a .285 average.

“The average is a byproduct of getting more pitches to hit," he said. "Getting in better counts to do more damage, that’s where the power comes from."

Especially noticeable was Semien’s ability to crowd the plate and still get around on inside pitches this past summer.

“A lot of my teammates laugh at it sometimes when I sometimes pull my hands in to hit a pitch that’s off the plate inside. But it’s definitely a quality that I want to keep, and a weapon to use if they throw it in there.”

Middle-infield partner

Marcus has paired with several different middle infielders over the years, and it seems like consistency at second base would benefit both him and the team. The departure of Jurickson Profar opens up a menu of at least four in-house choices for Oakland, and potentially anyone else they might acquire in the offseason.

“The platoon system has worked out for some teams,” said Semien. “But in my opinion, we’ve got an infield where three guys play every day, and have gotten better year in and year out. So we’ll see what they do at second base.”

[RELATED: Beane reveals he has Kyler on his fantasy football team]

Is this the window?

Optimism is high surrounding a team that has won 194 games over the last two seasons. After seeing the arrival of highly anticipated prospects like A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo debut last year, many are wondering whether Oakland is entering a window for something special over the next three to five years.

But Semien is not focusing on where the A’s have been, but rather where they need to go.

“Our division is only going to get better," he said. "Especially with the Rangers getting a new ballpark and looking to spend more money on free agents. Anaheim has one of the best lineups in the game, if they add pitching they’ll be right up there too.

"For us, we can’t take anything for granted, we need to get better and stay healthy as a group.”