Red Sox: Are Proposed MLB rule changes good for the game?

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 31: The Boston Red Sox 2018 World Series Championship banner hangs outside Fenway Park on October 31, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 31: The Boston Red Sox 2018 World Series Championship banner hangs outside Fenway Park on October 31, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

I was skeptical when I first heard of MLB rule changes. However, I think most of the changes are good for the game and the Red Sox.

Let’s take a look at what the possible changes could be. First I’ll cover why I think the changes are good for the game of baseball, then how I think the Red Sox will benefit or be hurt by the changes.

The proposed rules changes, which if approved won’t take effect until next year, are:

  1. A three batter minimum for pitchers
  2. Single Trade deadline
  3. Universal DH
  4. Draft advantages for winning teams and penalties for losing teams
  5. 20-second pitch clock
  6. Expansion of rosters to 26 with a 12 pitcher maximum
  7. A study to lower the mound
  8. Allowing two-sport amateurs to sign major league contracts

First, let me start by saying that there are four changes I really don’t care about.

A study to lower the mound- The mound has been changed multiple times and I don’t think that the mound height is of high concern. Allowing two-sport amateurs to sign major league contracts- This is in there because of the embarrassing situation that unfolded with Kyler Murray. How often does that come up? Expansion of rosters to 26 with a 12 pitcher maximum and one trade deadline- I could live with or without it. Single Trade deadline- Again personally I don’t see a major difference if they approve this change. Sure the current system has helped the Red Sox in the past but aren’t there more pressing issues to deal with right now? I just don’t see any of these 4 changes as making a big difference in the game.

With that said, three pitcher minimum, 20-second pitch clock, draft advantages to winning teams, and universal DH? Home run changes if you ask me. I love baseball but the players, coaches, and analytics have slowed this game down too much.

The three batter minimum- This will help speed up the game by reducing the number of pitching changes which have become all too common. I also think its good for the game because it forces pitchers to be more versatile.

I remember when there were just “lefty specialists” like side armed pitchers. Now there are pitchers for right-handed batters, left-handed batters, pitchers for just one specific batter. C’mon guys. You are supposed to be the best of the best. Work on your craft to be able to get more than one guy out. I will acknowledge though this problem is a beast that analytics created.

The universal designated hitter- This is long overdue. From a league perspective, you are minimizing potential offensive production by having pitchers bat, offense creates excitement and fan interest. From a player perspective, the universal DH would create a roster spot for someone or expand potential free agent signing destinations that are currently unavailable if a team thinks you can’t play good defense.

Expanding options would create a better market for players. Supply and demand. More teams available to bid on a player means his asking price can increase. See J.D. Martinez last year as the reverse effect.

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Draft advantages for winning teams and penalties for losing teams- For the longest time, any pro sports league would talk about preventing tanking. Well when you start rewarding winning teams with better draft positions, that makes losing on purpose that much less inviting. Why wouldn’t a low revenue team try to tank when teams like the Houston Astros turned their franchise around by tanking.

The proposed rule would give incentives to low revenue teams that finish with a winning percentage above .500 or make the playoffs. Teams would be penalized for back to back 90 loss seasons. Less tanking means more competitive games for the majority of the season.

20-second pitch clock- Best way to speed up the game. But the details are what matters. Major League Baseball struggles in this area. Remember when replay first came out? The controversy about the transfer of the ball out of the glove to a player’s hand? Or how about when is a catch official? Is it when it’s in the netting or when the glove is closed? Miserable time.

Hopefully, they put this rule in place and get the details right. I hope they don’t turn off the clock with runners on base like ESPN’s Jeff Passan mentions in his article here. Players will need to adapt to the new rules just like NFL players need to adjust to new rules governing how to tackle someone. If you turn off the clock when a runner gets on base then how much time are you actually saving?

So would the Boston Red Sox ultimately benefit from any of these changes? Yes and no. Again lets tackle these one by one.

Three batter minimum– Definitely a positive. Imagine having to deal with this potential top 5 (1. Andrew Benintendi, 2. Mookie Betts, 3. Xander Bogaerts, 4. J.D. Martinez, 5. Mitch Moreland/Rafael Devers) If one reliever had to navigate those waters, good luck. However, with the way the bullpen is set up this rule could be disastrous. As I said, these rules most likely won’t take effect until next year but I can only go off what the bullpen currently consists of. Besides Matt Barnes or Ryan Brasier, I’m not sure how the rest of the bullpen would fare. Overall still a plus for the Red Sox.

The universal designated hitter- This could affect the Red Sox negatively when it comes to free agency. The DH is one reason they were able to sign J.D. Martinez to such a team friendly deal. Teams were down on him defensively and since the National League has no DH spot he had to go to the American League which limits competition. Limited suitors drive down cost.

Draft advantages for winning teams and penalties for losing teams- In the market, the Red Sox are in, winning is everything. From some of the things I’ve read this rule mentions lower revenue teams getting the benefits for not tanking. However, I only see this as a benefit for the Red Sox because they will never be in full tank mode for more the one season.

20-second pitch clock- Don’t see a positive or negative here. Completely depends on the pitcher preference. I mean it could be positive on the offensive side if a pitcher wants to pitch slow but can’t and Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are at the plate. I can see them teeing off on those pitchers.

Former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis proposes MLB rule changes. dark. Next

Overall I hope at some point these changes are made. Baseball for too long has been too slow to make changes to improve the game. Every year the NFL, NBA, and NHL make changes to make the league better or address situations that seem to happen more than others. These changes are sensible and don’t drastically alter the core of the game. Let’s go MLB and MLBPA. EMBRACE CHANGE!