The 2020 MLB season has new roster rules to address the unusual circumstances in which the abbreviated season will be played, while under the cloud of the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic.
While MLB had already determined in the offseason that there would be 26 man rosters in 2020, with limitations on the number of pitchers to be rostered and when position players can pitch, the roster limits are being further tweaked due to the late start to the season and the shortened training camps.
For the first two weeks of the season, teams will be allowed a 30 man roster. The following two weeks, teams will have a 28 man roster, and then after that the normal 26 man roster will be in place the rest of the season. MLB is, however, removing the restriction on how many pitchers can be on the active roster.
Teams will be able to designate 60 players who are eligible to play — that will consist of the 40 players on the 40 man roster, together with 20 “taxi squad” players. Taxi squad guys for the Rangers likely include some potentially useful prospects in the upper minors who didn’t make the 40 man roster this offseason, such as Eli White and Joe Barlow, along with veteran NRI types who would normally be in AAA for depth. In the latter category, think guys like Rob Refsnyder, Sam Travis, Tim Federowicz, Taylor Guerrieri, and Cody Allen — all of whom are still on minor league deals with the Rangers.
There have reportedly been talks between MLB and the Nashville Sounds about having two teams of unsigned players play and work out at Nashville, to provide for an emergency pool of players, should they be needed. Nashville has one of the better facilities among AAA teams, so having that as the base for the emergency squads would make sense.
In other rule tweaks, there will be universal DH in 2020, and the trade deadline will now be August 31, rather than July 31. The 15 day injured list for pitchers that was to be implemented this year is being replaced with a 10 day injured list. The three batter minimum rule, however, will remain in place.
Its going to be weird, but it will also be baseball, and in a sixty game season, there’s a lot more potential variability, which means a better chance for a fringe team like the Texas Rangers, who were considered longshots to make the playoffs in March, to sneak into the expanded playoffs this year. I’m excited to see how this plays out.