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New MLB rules: 15 days down for pitchers, limit of 5 options per season for all players

Toronto Blue Jays v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Major League Baseball active rosters were trimmed from 28 players to 26 on Monday, and a couple of rules will now be enforced that were temporarily suspended for the beginning of this season. Namely, option periods and injured list stints for pitchers, and the number of times any player can be optioned this season.

For pitchers, their option periods as well as their injured list stints will now be 15 days long instead of 10. This is aimed at curbing roster churn that has been utilized over the past few years, including by the Dodgers who have almost perfected the tactic. This particular rule was actually enacted before the 2020 season, but was relaxed in each of the last two seasons as part of COVID-related protocols in the sport.

Andre Jackson was optioned to Triple-A on Saturday, which was during the relaxed rules to open 2022, so his option period only needs to last 10 days instead of 15. So he could be brought back as soon as May 10, or earlier if replacing an injured player.

Another recently optioned pitcher who could return earlier than 15 days is Garrett Cleavinger, who was optioned on Sunday and could return by May 11. But going forward, any time a pitcher gets sent out, it will be 15 days on the shelf instead of ten.

Part of the new collective bargaining agreement this year is a limit on a number of times a player can be optioned during one season. Players called this a quality of life issue, reducing the feeling of being used as chattel. Mitch White last year, for instance, was optioned 10 times during the season.

This applies to all players going forward, though as part of relaxed rules to start this season after a rushed spring training any options through Sunday did not count toward the limit of five. Once a player is optioned five times in one season, any further assignment to the minors would require placement on outright waivers. That’s the equivalent of being out of options and having to be designated for assignment like pitcher Carson Fulmer on Monday.

Zach McKinstry was optioned on Monday as well, which starts his option counter at one. He was also optioned on both April 24 and April 25, the latter only possible because McKinstry was quickly recalled the first time once David Price landed on the COVID-related injured list.

We’re going to keep a tracker of Dodgers options this season, but considering that McKinstry is the only one on the list for now, we’ll wait a little bit before putting that up.

That’s a summary of where we are at now with certain rules. Active rosters are now at 26 players, and teams can carry a maximum of 14 pitchers for the next four weeks, through May 29. Starting on May 30, the limit will be 13 pitchers, but we’ll deal with that when we get there.