A single July 31 trade deadline plus an All-Star Game Election Day will be implemented in 2019 while roster expansion will happen in 2020 as part of a significant agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. Passan adds that the two sides are set to officially announce the deal on Thursday.
MLB and the MLBPA have spent this past winter negotiating over rule changes while labor relations grew tense after a second consecutive slow free agent market.
The single July 31 trade deadline means there will likely be a lot more action. The MLBPA is hopeful that the single deadline will also incentivize teams to be more aggressive in the offseason knowing that trades in August are no longer an option. The All-Star Game Election Day will be a chance for MLB to market its players. Fans will vote online for All-Star starters, and the top three vote-getters will take part in a one-day election. (.)
Both the single trade deadline and All-Star Election Day will be implemented immediately for the 2019 season.
In 2020, regular-season rosters will expand from 25 to 26 players with a maximum of 13 pitchers. Teams will be able to roster a maximum 28 players and 14 pitchers in the postseason.
Passan adds that MLB and the MLBPA will begin discussing labor issues soon. Here’s what the discussions will focus on:
Those discussions, sources told ESPN, will center around the game’s most fundamental economic tenets — not just free agency but other macro issues with deep consequences. The bargaining over distribution of revenue could be the most difficult gap to bridge, with teams clearly paring back spending on aging players while players chafe at the notion that those 30 and older are no longer worthy of the deals they received in the past. While a compromise could be reached in distributing more money to the younger players whom the current system underpays, the complications of doing so warrant a long runway for discussions.
Other subjects to be broached include the manipulation of service time that keeps the best prospects in the minor leagues to begin a season, the luxury-tax threshold that some believe discourage spending, and the gathering of biometric data that has become commonplace among major league teams. While the incentive is strong to repair their relationship’s fissures — and perhaps even extend the current CBA, which guaranteed more than a quarter-century of labor peace amid $10 billion-plus a year in industry revenues — doing so will require significant compromise from both sides. The prospect of division internally in either party is palpable as well, whether it’s players young and old or owners in large markets and small.
MLB’s current collective bargaining agreement with the MLBPA expires on Dec. 1, 2021.