With Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, one topic being discussed is the size of the rosters teams can use during the season.

On Thursday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the proposal the sides are discussing would expand rosters from 25 players to 26 for the bulk of the campaign. In exchange, the agreement would introduce a new limit in September, when rosters have traditionally expanded to 40 players. 

September roster expansion has drawn criticism because it changes the dynamic for managers as they navigate their way through games with more players at their disposal than the rest of the year. 

After speaking to multiple general managers and team executives, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote about roster expansion in August, noting the union may not be “as on board with the change as much as MLB because it would limit major league participation.”

Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette suggested keeping the roster size at 40 players, with teams having to designate 30 players from that group as active before each game. 

Rosenthal noted the sides have discussed a similar scenario in their negotiations: “The new limit likely would be 28, and the rules would permit teams to swap out players, though not on a daily basis.”

One reason the union may not be keen to give up roster spots is because it would limit service time for many players, which would prevent them from reaching arbitration and free agency as quickly.

A lot of players who get called up in September are relievers, which allows managers to ease the burden on pitchers who have had heavy workloads over the first five months of the season. In July, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN’s Mike & Mike (via ESPN.com) that he would be in favor of placing a restriction on the number of relief pitchers who can be used in an inning or game. 

Rosenthal noted the topic is also being discussed during CBA negotiations, though it “could be resolved separately from the CBA,” per a source.

The CBA will expire Dec. 1. There’s been little to suggest a work stoppage is looming, and there is plenty of time for the sides to come to an agreement.

MLB hasn’t had a work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike, which led to the cancellation of the 1994 postseason and a shortened 144-game schedule in 1995.

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