SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For weeks there have been rumors that MLB and the MLB Players Association could come to an agreement on new rules, but that hasn’t been at the forefront of conversations in the Giants clubhouse.
When asked about the possibility of changes, several veteran players have pointed out that the real issue right now is the slowdown in free agency and service time manipulation, not a universal DH or a pitch clock.
“Some of these rules seem pretty insignificant to me considering the bigger picture,” Buster Posey said earlier this month.
The players are focused on changes to the system, but there still likely will be rule changes. Earlier this week, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that MLB is willing to delay a pitch clock until at least 2022 in order to implement other rules in 2020.
They would certainly impact the Giants at some point, but just how much would we notice new rules? Here’s a rundown …
A few years ago this would have been a big issue for Bruce Bochy, who so deftly maneuvered through late innings by finding the right matchups for guys like Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez. But the 2018 Giants actually ranked just 23rd in the majors in relief appearances that lasted fewer than three outs. Reyes Moronta was the leader, with 25 of the bullpen's 130 such appearances, but he seems headed for a meatier role.
San Francisco Giants
This may not have a huge impact on the Giants, but it still seems like a lame way to try and speed up games, and it's one players and coaches have grumbled about when asked. They do not want to lose any strategic aspects of the game.
Fewer mound visits
This was never a problem for the Giants last year. Only once did they look up and see that they had just one mound visit remaining, and that was because of confusion with signs. So have at it, MLB.
28-man roster and 14-pitcher cap in September
The Giants have generally not gone over the top with September call-ups and at times they've looked into the other dugout and seen 38-39 players. But, Farhan Zaidi's Dodgers were one of the teams that loaded up, so perhaps that was something he was going to do in San Francisco.
This wouldn't have a huge impact on the roster, but it would hurt Triple-A players who spend five months dreaming of that promotion. That would be a bummer.
Maximum of 13 pitchers on 26-man roster
The players are eager to add that roster spot because it means 30 additional big league jobs, and the Giants wouldn't really be impacted by a limit on pitchers. They often will carry 13 for a stretch, but more than that isn't really necessary.
This would help a guy like Drew Ferguson, who may find himself squeezed out of a bench spot. Or an Alen Hanson, who could be worth that extra spot for his speed alone.
Shorter inning breaks
This just means less time for certain beat writers to get nachos in the Petco Park press box when they put the cheese out after the third inning and bring the hot sauce out of the cabinets. Which would suck, but maybe the players wouldn't really care?
One trade deadline
MLB would like to eliminate the waiver deals in August, having just one deadline on July 31. This would have impacted the 2018 Giants, who traded Andrew McCutchen at the end of August. It probably wouldn't hurt Zaidi much. He seems well-suited to be realistic about his roster and make hard decisions by July 31.
Limits on position players pitching
Per ESPN, position players could only pitch after the ninth inning, or after the sixth inning if their team trails by at least seven runs. Bochy never used a position player on the mound until last season, when both Sandoval and Chase d'Arnaud did it, and the Giants trailed by at least seven runs both times.
So perhaps this would never impact the Giants.
But still, FREE PABLO!