Expanded rosters, ‘Ohtani rule' among 2022 rule changes

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Major League Baseball and the players union have agreed to a series of rule changes that will go into effect this season, according to multiple reports.

The changes won't become official until next week, when MLB owners are scheduled to vote to ratify them. They're expected to pass; a majority vote is needed to ratify the changes.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the rule changes are:

  • Rosters will expand from 26 to 28 players in April
  • An automatic runner will start on second base in extra innings
  • Pitchers can remain in the batting order after they are replaced on the mound
  • Doubleheaders will be nine innings

Expanding rosters is in response to baseball's abbreviated spring training following MLB's lockout. Concern around pitchers and their early-season workloads is high for every team.

There will be no limit in April for how many pitchers teams can carry. Typically, teams are limited to 13.

The automatic runner starting on second base in extra innings will be for 2022 only. It originally was implemented as part of MLB's protocols during the 60-game 2020 pandemic season as a way to avoid lengthy extra-inning games. 

Colloquially referred to as the "Shohei Ohtani rule," a pitcher who is in the starting lineup as a hitter can remain in the game as the DH after being pulled from the mound. MLB implemented the universal DH as part of the latest labor agreement.

Doubleheaders were seven-inning games the past two seasons.

The new labor agreement also gives MLB the ability to unilaterally implement rule changes with 45 days' notice beginning in 2023. (The league previously had to give a years' notice.)

That could include larger bases, banning the shift and adding a pitch clock next season.

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