The first Tuesday in November isn’t going to be the only annual Election Day in the United States.
As part of sweeping changes to the collective-bargaining agreement increasingly likely to be ratified by Major League Baseball and the MLB Player Association, the sides are planning to overhaul All-Star voting and create an Election Day for fans to pick the starters, major league sources familiar with the plan told ESPN.
The parties also are discussing increasing prize money for Home Run Derby participants in hopes of convincing the game’s biggest stars to participate, according to sources.
The larger deal would include an expansion of rosters to 26 players with a 13-pitcher limit as well as a three-batter-minimum rule for pitchers to be implemented in 2020. MLB and the union also are committing to discuss more complicated economic issues in the midst of the current agreement, which runs through December 2021, and potentially extend the deal, sources told ESPN.
An All-Star Election Day has been discussed but never implemented. Under the proposed plan, starting this year the standard online voting would take place. Upon its completion, the top three vote-getters at each position in each league would be on the ballot on Election Day, and whichever players received the most votes on that single day would determine the All-Star starters, according to sources.
The parties see Election Day as an opportunity to better engage fans and bring more excitement to the All-Star voting process — and encourage an uptick in social-media activity surrounding the game.
Reaching a deal of any variety mid-agreement is rare and speaks to MLB and the union’s recognition that the current animus borne of a changing free agent market is untenable for labor peace. After multiple proposals between the sides, MLB’s latest included a willingness to postpone potential implementation of a 20-second pitch clock until at least the 2022 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred had the right to unilaterally implement a clock this season and was prepared to do so barring a deal.