7-inning doubleheaders, 26-man rosters among rules included for 2021 MLB season

Coby Green
·2 min read
Tony Clark Major League Baseball Player Association executive director
Tony Clark Major League Baseball Player Association executive director

MLB and the Players' Association have a deal on health and safety protocols for spring training and the regular season.

The deal includes on-field rule changes, roster implications and other health and safety procedures for 2021.

On field playing rules

  • Doubleheaders will consist of two seven-inning games.

  • Each extra half inning will begin with a runner on second base.

  • Any player may pitch at any point of the game — All players eligible to play, regardless of their position, must be included in that game's lineup card.

  • Prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct will be strictly enforced to prevent unnecessary physical contact — includes on-field arguments with umpires or opposing players/managers.

Roster changes

  • The active roster will revert to 26, but expand to 28 in September ahead of the postseason. The limit on the number of pitchers on the active roster at any given time has been waived.

  • Any team that experiences a COVID-19 outbreak among their players can be added to the Major League Active List temporarily, without the need for those players to be placed on waivers, outrighted, or optioned in order to be removed from the 40-man roster when players return from the COVID-19 Related Injured List.

  • Teams are permitted to carry up to five additional Taxi Squad players on all road trips. If the team elects to do so, at least one must be a player whose designated position prior to the season is catcher. Players on the Taxi Squad are permitted to workout with the team, but are not permitted to be in uniform and in the dugout during games.

Health and Safety procedures

  • A Joint COVID-19 Health and Safety Committee composed of one MLB and MLBPA representative and two physicians will continue to manage day-to-day oversight of the Monitoring and Testing Plan along with other aspects of the health and safety protocols.

  • Intake Screening will include a mandatory five-day at-home quarantine prior to reporting to Spring Training, followed by diagnostic/PCR and antibody/serology testing. Individuals must self-quarantine and may not access team facilities until their Intake Screening results are reported.

  • Frequent PCR testing will be administered — Players and other on-field personnel will continue be tested at least every other day throughout Spring Training, the regular season, and the postseason. Daily symptom screens and temperature checks will be recorded at least twice daily.

  • Individuals who test positive will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days, receive appropriate care and monitoring from the team medical staff, and be cleared by the Joint Committee and the individual’s team physician, following a mandatory cardiac evaluation and a determination that the individual no longer presents a risk of infection to others.

  • Mental Health and Well-Being Resources will be provided to players and staff by teams throughout Spring Training, the regular season and postseason.