Oct 13, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
Major league players will be allowed to compete in winter leagues this season after Major League Baseball and the players’ association reached an agreement on restrictions that will limit pitchers’ participation but loosen limitations on position players, sources with knowledge of the deal told Yahoo Sports.
That’s not such big news here in the United States, but it’s cause for great celebration in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico — where the four biggest winter baseball leagues operate. There was some concern that players on Major League Baseball’s 40-man rosters would be barred from participating in those winter leagues this year because of tense back-and-forth negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA that just concluded this past Friday.
Major League Baseball was aiming to limit the use of young and injury-prone starting pitchers and the union was pushing for as much freedom as possible for its players. Those winter league teams do pay salaries.
Passan has the breakdown of the new winter league rules that were officially ratified on Saturday:
Starting this year, Double-A starting pitchers – those on the 40-man roster with a majority of their time spent at Double-A – cannot participate in winter ball if they threw 140 or more innings. The previous threshold was 155. Similarly, Double-A relievers cannot have appeared in more than 45 games, while in years past it was 55.
Pitchers also are ineligible if their workload in games or innings grew 25 percent over the prior season. The caveats: They must’ve reached 60 percent of the games-or-innings threshold the previous season, and players switching from the rotation to the bullpen or vice versa don’t count.
Instead of a 502-plate appearance threshold for major league position players, those with up to 552 now can play winter ball. Moreover, the past procedure of declaring a “physical incapacity” – teams simply had to provide documentation – now has strict rules. Unless a player finishes the season on the disabled list or spent 60 days on the DL (including 15 over the final 60 days of the season), a team cannot declare him physically incapable. The exception is pitchers who have undergone major surgery in the previous 18 months.
Off-field improvements for players include the requirement of MLB-certified trainers, higher-quality equipment and increased standards for fields, clubhouses and bathrooms, with a compliance program to address issues.
The Venezuelan Winter League and the Mexican Pacific League began play late last week and the most popular of the four — the Dominican Winter League — is scheduled to get underway this coming Friday.
Mar 6, 2015, 11:43 PM EST
Cuban infielder Hector Olivera is free to sign with a team of his choosing now that he has been declared a free agent.
Mar 6, 2015, 11:05 PM EST
Jordan Zimmermann is well aware of the expectations the Nationals face going into the 2015 season.
Mar 6, 2015, 10:15 PM EST
Cole Hamels will be drawing plenty of eyeballs throughout the spring, as he remains a potential trade chip for the Phillies.
Mar 6, 2015, 9:25 PM EST
Daniel Murphy suffered a scare on Friday afternoon when he was hit on the hand with a pitch, but early results have been positive.
Mar 6, 2015, 8:35 PM EST
Friday was Matt Harvey Day in Port St. Lucie, as the right-hander returned to game action for the first time since he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Mar 6, 2015, 7:45 PM EST
The Astros didn’t like what they saw following Ryan Vogelsong’s medical examination, which is why they lowered their offer.
Mar 6, 2015, 6:55 PM EST
Gregor Blanco will probably get the lion’s share of the available playing time with Hunter Pence absent for six to eight weeks.
Mar 6, 2015, 6:05 PM EST
The Blue Jays have nothing to worry about with Jose Bautista, per manager John Gibbons.
Mar 6, 2015, 4:48 PM EST
Most of them don’t. But there are some predictive stats to be found in spring training games. If you know where to look.
Mar 6, 2015, 3:51 PM EST
The once top prospect hasn’t played in the bigs since 2012.
Mar 6, 2015, 3:15 PM EST
Kotchman was the Angels’ first-round pick in 2001 and played 10 seasons in the majors for seven different teams, most recently with the Marlins in 2013.
Mar 6, 2015, 2:40 PM EST
Beaned on Tuesday, plunked on Friday. Not the best week for Murph.
Mar 6, 2015, 2:20 PM EST
Beimel pitched well for the Mariners last season, throwing 45 innings with a 2.20 ERA.
Mar 6, 2015, 1:49 PM EST
Lucroy was initially given a 4-6 week recovery timetable on February 11, so he’s three-plus weeks in.
Mar 6, 2015, 1:19 PM EST
He faced six batters and retired them all. And he cranked it up to 99 m.p.h.
Mar 6, 2015, 12:39 PM EST
He’s been injured the last two seasons. He’s not starting 2015 out much better.
Mar 6, 2015, 11:31 AM EST
See, now that’s good sportsmanship in 2015!
Mar 6, 2015, 11:03 AM EST
The pitchers are starting to drop. Here’s hoping we don’t get a rash of these like we did last year.
Mar 6, 2015, 10:47 AM EST
Barry Zito took the mound Thursday for his first game action since 2013.
Mar 6, 2015, 10:30 AM EST
Reconnecting with old friends is always nice.
- MLB declares Hector Olivera a free agent 0
- Video: Watch Matt Harvey’s return to action against the Tigers 3
- Matt Harvey makes his return. And he was really impressive. 23
- Hector Olivera’s camp denies any damage to ulnar collateral ligament 3
- UPDATE: Hunter Pence out 6-8 weeks with fracture in left forearm 28
- MLBPA: leaks are from people “who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally” 36
- Suspending Josh Hamilton for a year would be obscene 147
- Report: MLB panel split on rehab for Josh Hamilton; one-year suspension is in play 45
- Daniel Murphy on Billy Bean: “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual” (380)
- Suspending Josh Hamilton for a year would be obscene (147)
- Curt Schilling lowers the boom on some men tweeting threats against his daughter (137)
- That facts of Josh Hamilton’s case should not be a matter of public record (94)
- Billy Bean responds to Daniel Murphy’s comments (90)