Rob Manfred Discusses Eppler Investigation, Potential Rules Changes

In anticipation of the World Series opener, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred held a press conference with reporters, including Evan Drellich of The Athletic, to address various topics related to the game. The discussion ranged from the ongoing investigation into former Mets GM Billy Eppler to potential future rule modifications.

Manfred assured reporters that the investigation into Eppler, which involves allegations of improper use of the injured list, will be concluded before the year comes to a close. While Manfred stated that there is currently no evidence of a broader issue beyond the Mets, he did instruct the league’s department of investigations to determine if a larger problem exists concerning the misuse of the injured list. Although Manfred clarified that the Mets’ situation is not exactly the same as other cases that have threatened the game’s integrity, he emphasized the significance of the alleged offense and highlighted the investigation’s high priority status.

Phantom injured list stints have been a longstanding practice in the league, extending to every team at some point or another. Some players have openly admitted to not being genuinely injured while on the list. Clubs often use vague diagnoses like soreness or fatigue to provide struggling players with a physical and mental reset while temporarily freeing up a roster spot. Although this practice is technically against the rules, it remains unclear which specific injured list transactions prompted the league to investigate Eppler and the Mets.

Manfred also discussed potential rule changes that the league may implement in the future. The 2023 season witnessed significant alterations to the rule set, including the introduction of a pitch clock, larger bases, and shift restrictions. These changes received positive feedback after their inaugural season, suggesting that the league is open to further adjustments. The commissioner made special mention of the ongoing debate surrounding the playoff format, given that six out of the eight teams with a first-round bye in the past three seasons failed to win a series. Manfred revealed that the commissioner’s office is “discussing” potential changes, while also expressing his personal fondness for the current playoff structure.

Speaking of potential changes, Manfred mentioned the possibility of reducing the maximum number of pitchers allowed on the active roster to 12. He pointed out that the current limit of 13 pitchers has not achieved the desired effect of encouraging teams to let their starting pitchers stay in the game for longer periods. This season, only eight teams had their starting pitchers throw less than 800 innings, which is a decrease from the 12 teams in 2021. However, it is worth noting that this year’s number matches that of 2019 and is actually one more than in 2022. Prior to 2019, only the 2018 Rays and the 2012 Rockies had recorded fewer than 800 innings from their starting pitchers in a season throughout this century.

Notably, any potential changes to the roster limit would not be applicable for the 2024 season. Manfred did not discuss possible rule adjustments for that season but indicated that the changes would likely be on a smaller scale compared to the significant modifications the sport underwent in 2023.


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