How the new MLB rules will impact 2022-23 free MLB agency

Major League Baseball will be looking appreciably different in 2023When pitch clocks become effective, it is common for larger bases to be introduced, and defensive shifts to be practically banned. While rosters are being built, the impact of these changes could be already felt. The executives from the industry's top-level meetings met in Las Vegas earlier this year and spent much of their time discussing how new rules could affect the player's value.

The consensus was: “We will see.”

We know that the pace of the game will be faster, which is a priority for the league. According to MLB data, the average game time for minor leagues fell 26 minutes by using a pitch clock. It went from 3 hours, 4 to 2 hours, 38 to 3 hours, 41 minutes. However, we don't yet know how these new rules could impact the way games play out and the building of teams. The MLB is always in pursuit of the casual fan. They want shorter game times, more action on bases and maybe more innings from pitchers. It is looking for a better way to win, a pursuit that should spark creativity among the sport's architects.

“It's going a lot of fun trying to find where there are opportunities for us win with these new regulations that maybe another group won't be,” said Boston Red Sox Chaim Bloom, chief baseball officer. “Why shouldn't we be the first to see these opportunities?” For the most part we are trying to remain grounded to what we know helps us win baseball games. This isn't going to change. If there's something more dramatic than we thought, it could be from something we didn’t think about. We won't know until there are 30 teams playing with them.

However, people of Bloom's generation will spend a lot more time anticipating in the offseason. It's what they do. Here are their thoughts on pitch clocks, larger bases, and shift restrictions that might affect clubs' valuation systems.


It's a great time to be left-handed pull hitter

When executives were asked which types of players might be most likely to benefit from the new rules, this was the most popular idea. The numbers back up their theory. It was used in 34% of plate appearances last year, almost three times as often as it was five years ago. Lefties were shifted against a whopping 55% of the time in 2022, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information research. The left-handed hitter's average batted ball in play was.283, which was the lowest for a full season since 1989. For righties (34%), it was.296, Their BABIP for ground balls was tiny at.219.

All four infielders must place their feet within the outside boundary of the infield. Two of them must be on either side of second base. The restrictions were applied in Double-A and both Class A levels this season and saw only slight increases in the BABIP. (BABIP of left-handed hitters hitting ground balls went up from.240 to 1.249). However, shifts are much more prevalent in the major leagues. You won't suddenly see an extra infielder in shallow left field — which can be a boon to the left-handed powerhitter.

One prime example of their growing value is already available with Joc PedersonThe $13 million he earned from back-to–back, free-agent contracts in 2021 & 2022 combined. However, he accepted the $19.65million qualifying offer from The San Francisco Giants 2023 Farhan Zaidi, Giants president, baseball operations, spoke with reporters shortly after Pederson accepted and stated, “If Joc asks him, he probably thinks he is going to win the batting crown next year.”

Seattle Mariners Jerry Dipoto is the president of baseball operations: “I haven't met a team yet that doesn't want to acquire left-handed hitting. This is the most obvious difference. Although I am not sure if it will impact roster building immediately, I believe it will have an effect on the way the game plays. It will impact roster building in a year, even if it doesn't affect it now.

Detroit Tigers Scott Harris, president of baseball operations“The ban on the shift opens up new opportunities for left-handed batters. That's because the shift ate up the batted balls.

Cincinnati Reds Nick Krall, GM: “On offense. The pull guys are going be better.”

Los Angeles Dodgers Brandon Gomes is the General Manager: [will attain more value]It's just about being able accumulate more hits, and not do more damage. This would be my choice. Other points could be argued. We don't know when the pitch clock will strike. It's possible that there are many things we don't even see right now, and they all play out.”

It is a great way to help the least amount of people.: 12 qualified players were shifted against more than 75% on pitches between 2017 and 2022. In descending order, they are: Chris Davis. Carlos Santana, Joey GalloJustin Smoak Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, Matt CarpenterJay Bruce Mitch Moreland, Matt Olson, Brandon Belt And Max Muncy. Santana, Gallo and Carpenter are all available as free agents during the offseason.


Speed — especially infielders with range — will be of premium

Extreme shifts are over, meaning that infielders will need to cover more ground. It will be harder for teams to get away with non-traditional second basesmen. Shortstops with an above-average range will likely be more important.

This is where executives are focusing right now. But there's also a component called baserunning, though its potential impact remains a mystery.

The size of bases will increase from 15-18 square inches to reduce the distance from first to second and third by 4.5 inches (it's 3 inches from home to third to home). MLB has attributed the reasoning to injury prevention. Base-related injuries at all four levels of the minor leagues went from 453 in 2021, to 392 by 2022, when larger bases were implemented. Base-stealing, a skill that is losing its appeal and which has captivated fans for decades, may see an increase in interest. This season saw only 0.68 attempted thefts of base bases per game, the fourth-lowest number since 1969, which is the start of the Divisional Era. 2019 2020 and 2021 were the only years with a lower rate.

MLB reports that the full-season minor league levels have gone from 2.23 stolen base attempts with a 68% success ratio in 2019 to 2.83 with a 77% success rate for 2022. This is likely due to both the larger bases and the new rule that limits pitchers to two pickoff attempts per plate.

Washington Nationals Mike Rizzo is the president of baseball operations. “Athleticism, which will affect the changes on offense and defense, will be a premium. It will take a while to see the results.

Chicago White Sox Rick Hahn is the General Manager“The pitch clock” is the most important adjustment. It's on every play. But the shift will have a major impact on roster construction. Your middle infielders will need to display more athleticism than they did in the past.

Harris“Banning the shift increases the premium on infield coverage because you can’t cover range by positioning as usual. When it comes to personnel, you price this into your decision-making.

Krall:

Chicago Cubs Jed Hoyer, president of baseball operations: “You cannot hide guys in the Shift anymore. That space is too small for athleticism. There will be no more second basemen below average. It's something worth considering.

Miami Marlins GM Kim Ng“I believe you'll see more athletic third basemen than we have in the past few decades.”

Oakland Athletics GM David Forst: “I have heard about it. I believe we have a great idea of how a player moves in the infield, his athleticism and his ability. We're going to do the best we know how positionally. So I'm not just playing second baseman because I can't shift. You will still be able to move it about. Perhaps that's a bit exaggerated, but it's true that you will need more freedom to play almost anywhere.

It's the best way to help people: Trea TurnerA highly-coveted shortstop in this offseason is, who is one of most fast players in the sport. His role as an elite base-stealer now is even more important. Keep second basemen who are athletic and free-agent Jean Segura, Adam Frazier And Josh Harrison Keep this in mind.


WANTED – Pitchers who are able to work faster and not lose their stuff

The pitch clock was created by MLB to speed up the pace of games and reduce game times. The league also sees a health aspect, noting that minor league pitcher injuries increased from 1,058 to 782 between 2021 and 2022. According to the league's analysis, the drop could be due to the cumulative effect of playing shorter games and getting more sleep. This also may have contributed to the slower recovery time. The other, less well-known hope is that some of the more cartoonish aspects of the sport, such as the hellacious slider and triple-digit sinker have diminished. If pitchers are quick to collect themselves, the impact of that will be lessened. Dipoto and others refute this notion.

Dipoto told his minor-league staff to coach against the “long burn” he refers back to when he was GM of the league. Los Angeles Angels. It is better for development for both the batter and pitchers if pitchers throw faster. It makes infielders more sharp, improves pitcher's stamina, and raises the difficulty level for hitters. He's found that pitchers adapt very quickly to a pitch clock and that their stuff doesn't suffer if they work faster.

Dipoto said: “Sometimes the stuffiest guys I've ever met are quick workers.”

Cleveland Guardians Chris Antonetti is president of baseball operations“The pitch clock will not impact roster construction. Everyone will eventually adapt to it. It could have an impact on max ability and how long pitchers can play — I don't think anyone has complete visibility.

Forst: “It's clear that there is something to be learnt by the speed at which a guy works. It's difficult to quantify the skill, but we have seen pitchers in Triple-A who didn't have a pitch counter and worked differently. When you ask them, they'll tell you that in the big leagues, it's not necessary for them to work as fast. I can take more.

Milwaukee Brewers GM Matt Arnold“The pitch clock will be more of a factor from a training standpoint than an acquisition perspective. But we don't yet know how these will play out. It is interesting to me how it might impact acquisitions. We don't know.

St. Louis Cardinals John Mozeliak is president of baseball operations“I think pitchers will adapt to that. I believe hitters will have the most trouble. Pitchers do this all the time. The rehab pitchers seem to have no problem. If you look at the younger guys coming up, it's clear that they are staying in the box, ready to go, and ready to hit. I am just curious — [hitters] How will they deal with people who have been in the league for five, ten years? “Spring training is going to be very telling,” I believe.

It's the best way to help people: It's difficult to say right now. For reference, here's a list of the five fastest baseball workers from 2021-2022. These are those who throw at minimum 1,000 pitches. Wade Miley, Brent Suter, Aaron Ashby, Taijuan Walker, Josh Fleming. The slowest (based on the average pace with the bases empty). Kyle Finnegan, Jake Diekman, Jose Suarez, Clay Holmes, Yu Darvish. Miley and Walker can be contacted for free.

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