Explaining MLB Pace-of-Play Rule Changes for 2019 Season; Latest on Pitch Clock

John HealyContributor IMarch 21, 2019

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 24:  David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox gets a mound visit during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park on October 24, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Changes are coming this season to Major League Baseball. 

The league and the MLB Players Association recently announced that the two sides have negotiated a series of rule changes that will go into effect over the next two seasons, subject to ratification from all 30 clubs. 

A pitch clock, however, will not be one of them. 

MLB experimented with the pitch clock in spring training this year, but both the league and the players' union have agreed to shelve the issue until the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2021. 

While there may not be anything as radical as a pitch clock going into effect this season, the game will still undergo some minor changes, most notably, addressing pace of play. 


Inning Breaks

The most drastic pace-of-play change to go into effect this season will be a reduction in time between innings. Subject to discussions with broadcast partners, inning breaks will be reduced from 2:05 to 2:00 in local games and from 2:25 to 2:00 in national games. The league also reserves the right to further shorten those times by an additional five seconds in 2020. 

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Mound Visits

MLB instituted mound visits for the first time last season, limiting teams to just six visits per game, excluding pitching changes. This year, that will be reduced from six to five visits per game in another effort to improve pace of play. 


Trade Deadline

There will now be just one deadline for teams to make trades during the season. The Aug. 31 waiver deadline is being eliminated and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline will be the only deadline. Players may still be placed on waivers after the July 31 deadline and teams can still put in claims for players, but there will no longer be any trades allowed after that date. 


All-Star Game

The way fans vote for All-Stars will be different this season. Voting will be conducted in two rounds—a "primary round" that will be similar to the old voting style and an "Election Day," which will be held in either late June or early July and consist of the top three vote-getters at each position from the first round of voting. 

Meanwhile, the All-Star Game itself will also undergo a change. If the game goes into extra innings, starting in the 10th inning and all subsequent innings, a runner will be placed on second base to start the inning. 


Home Run Derby

To add a little more intrigue and draw more player interest in the Home Run Derby, the winner of the contest will receive $1 million as their prize. The total player prize money will also be increased from $525,000 last season to $2.5 million, which includes the $1 million grand prize. 

There will be further changes implemented in 2020, such as a three-batter minimum for pitchers, roster size expansion and changes to the minimum days spent on the injured list, but for now the 2019 season will see just the aforementioned marginal changes.