Major League Baseball has reportedly proposed increasing mandated time on the disabled list to 15 days once again, as well as extending the amount of time players must spend in the minor leagues after being optioned to 15 days.
According to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, the proposed rule changes made by MLB to the MLB Players Association aim to limit teams' ability to heavily rotate relief pitchers. The average start has dropped from 5.89 innings in 2012 to 5.36 innings last season.
Many clubs have leaned heavily on their bullpens in recent years to limit the number of times their non-ace starting pitchers must go through the opposing batting order.
Some teams, most notably the Tampa Bay Rays, have frequently used bullpen days where no pitcher stays in the game for more than two or three innings.
The changing landscape of the pitching market has been seen in free agency.
Aaron Gleeman of Baseball Prospectus highlighted some of the big-money deals given to relievers this offseason:
Aaron Gleeman @AaronGleeman
Relievers among my top 50 free agents: #8 Craig Kimbrel — unsigned #15 David Robertson — $23M/2 #21 Jeurys Familia — $30M/3 #23 Andrew Miller — $25M/2 #24 Adam Ottavino — $27M/3 #26 Zach Britton — $39M/3 #36 Joakim Soria — $15M/2 #38 Cody Allen — $8.5M/1 #44 Joe Kelly — $25M/3
The strategy has also led to more movement between the majors and the minors as teams look to have fresh pitchers available in the bullpen as often as possible.
According to Blum, MLB's intent in changing the DL and option rules is to force clubs to become more selective with pitching changes and potentially increase league-wide offensive output in the process.
In addition, discussions continue about the addition of a pitch clock to help speed up games, which have slowed in part because of the increase in pitching changes, per Blum.
Talks between MLB and the MLBPA are expected to continue up to and potentially through the start of spring training games Feb. 21.