Baseball reveals rule changes for 2019/2020

Los Angeles - Major League Baseball (MLB) unveiled a sweeping range of rule changes due to be introduced over the next two years on Thursday, with several moves designed to speed up play and boost entertainment.

The MLB said in a statement it had negotiated the changes in conjunction with the MLB Players Association, subject to ratification from all 30 clubs.

Several of the changes would be introduced this season, with reductions in the time of inning breaks and a shorter trade deadline both going into effect.

A revamped All-Star Game would also go into effect, with the winner of the traditional Home Run Derby getting a $1 million jackpot.

The All-Star Game starting line-ups would also be determined by fan voting.

The length of inning breaks would be cut from 2min 5sec to 2min in local games while national game breaks will be reduced by 25 seconds.

The statement said the league commissioner could implement further reduction in inning breaks to 1min 55sec in 2020.

Meanwhile the number of mound visits would also be reduced from six to five per game this season.

Off the field, the August waiver trade period will be scrapped this season, meaning players can only be traded up to the July 31 deadline.

That effectively ends the practice of teams bolstering their rosters late in the season in time for the playoffs, as the Houston Astros did in 2017 when they signed pitcher Justin Verlander.

Verlander would later play a key role in the Astros World Series victory.

Some of the most significant changes announced Thursday will take effect in 2020.

Active roster sizes up to August 31 will be increased from 25 to 26 players but 40-man active rosters from September 1 to the end of the regular season will be cut to 28 players.

Other rule changes concern pitching. From 2020, starting pitchers and relief pitchers must pitch to either a minimum of three batters or to the end of a half inning.

This rule is designed to end the practice of bringing on pitchers specifically to face one particular batter.