The 2020 MLB season is playing with modified roster rules due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic having first delayed the start of the season, and then resulted in a shortened season with shortened training camps in the run-up to the late-July Opening Day. Teams have an additional 20 man pool of non-roster players that they had to designate today of players who, along with the 40 man roster players, are eligible to be on the major league active roster.
Levi Weaver has gotten some important clarifications from Jon Daniels on the rules regarding adding guys from the “taxi squad,” which helps give some context to how and why the taxi squad roster is constructed.
Per JD via Levi, a player on the 20 man taxi squad has to be released if he is removed from the taxi squad. If a player is on the 40 man roster and the team wants to remove him from the 60 player pool, he must be exposed to waivers (although it appears that a player on the 40 man roster who goes on the 60 day injured list, and thus is removed from the 40 man roster, does not count towards your 60 man pool).
There is a COVID-19 injured list for players who are exposed, are displaying symptoms or have tested positive. Those players do not count towards the 40 man roster and there is no minimum or maximum time on that injured list. Levi says that if 3+ players on a team test positive the COVID-positive players would not count towards the 60 man pool limit, and could be replaced in the 60 man pool by players who would not be subject to the removal restrictions.
So, for the sake of discussion, if Derek Law, Ian Gibaut and Edinson Volquez all tested positive, the team could put them on the COVID list and replace them in the 60 man pool with, say, Cole Uvila, Joe Barlow and John King. Once Law, Gibaut and Volquez returned, Uvila, Barlow and King could be removed from the 60 man pool without being released or exposed to waivers.
This helps explain why guys like Barlow or Uvila, who could potentially contribute, aren’t on the 60 man roster now. You can choose to add guys to the pool later, should you wish, but you don’t want to crowd the 60 man pool with guys you are going to regret losing on the off-chance you might want them down the road. You have your veteran depth types on there instead, guys who you can release without regret should you need that 60 man pool spot later.