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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Should the September active 40-man be limited?

In the recent Major League Baseball general managers meeting, evening the inherent inequities in September roster sizes was discussed.

As it is today, MLB clubs can activate as many as 15 additional players during the final month – the difference between the 25-man and 40-man rosters. Some organizations, specifically many of those competing in minor league playoffs, wait until later in the month to make some or all of their moves.

The result is that opposing teams in key post-season-deciding games during September may have considerably differing number of players available.

MLB vice president Joe Torre is among those who believe an equal number of players should be set for each game. Clubs could decide each day which players are active and which are not.

Teams could call up as many players as today, it appears, though the quantity active on any given day would be limited.

“Each team should have equal number of players available every day,” Torre told the Associated Press. “I just think you play the whole season with one set of rules and the most important time of the year, especially for clubs that are in a pennant race, I just don’t think it’s fair for it to be done (with a) different number of roster people.”

While players’ union approval would be required, officials have expressed a willingness to consider the idea.

While active player limits like 28 and 30 were discussed, it should be kept in mind that depending on how the rule is implemented, clubs may be able to inactivate four of their five current rotation members on any given day. That could effectively increase available players within the 25 base by four.

To help put this in St. Louis Cardinals perspective, the club had nine extra players this September, for a total of 34 active. In recent years, their total ranged from as low as eight to as many as 13 additions.

With Triple-A Memphis missing the post-season for the second consecutive year, there was no need to consider delaying call-ups past the traditional Labor Day end of season. In fact, minor injuries in St. Louis meant a couple of the nine 2012 additions arrived in late August, remaining through the end of the Cardinals’ regular schedule.

The 2012 group included one major leaguer coming off the disabled list – Lance Berkman, three pitchers (Shelby Miller, Victor Marte and Sam Freeman), two catchers (Bryan Anderson and Steven Hill), a pair of infielders (Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson) and one outfielder (Adron Chambers). Of the nine, Kozma, Freeman and Miller saw the most meaningful action.

However, the 34 total was a bit inflated. It included injured and unavailable players such as Rafael Furcal. Since the 25-man limit is meaningless in September, the Cardinals had no need to put the shortstop on the disabled list.

September DL usage/non-usage may not change if the rules are altered, but a player like Furcal could simply be listed among the inactive each day along with any call-ups not needed.

What do you think of the MLB proposal?

Should MLB define a fixed and consistent number of players available in each final-month game?

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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24 Responses to “Should the September active 40-man be limited?”

  1. Bw52 says:

    leave things alone.It should be the teams choice how they handle rosters callups and the use of callups.after all isn`t the main function of the minors to develop and furnish players for the Big leagues.While it might seem unfair to the AAA teams in playoffs the management of minor league team can also bring a prospect up if needed to fill a hole left by a recalled player.
    Brian what is the official rule on calling a minor leaguer up to fill a spot?

    • Brian Walton says:

      Bw, can you be a bit more specific on your question, please?

      If you mean – Could a Triple-A team add a Double-A player? – then yes. But think of it this way. Losing a Shelby Miller and getting back a Scott Gorgen or Michael Blazek in return isn’t going to compensate.

  2. crdswmn says:

    I kind of like the idea of being able to inactivate SPs and having extra bats available off the bench.

    • Brian Walton says:

      To be fair, I had not read the “inactivate the rotation members” concept anywhere, but it seems a logical assumption of how teams could use such a rule – unless it was strictly prohibited for some reason. The extra bats would be available under today’s rules, too.

      • crdswmn says:

        Even so, it’s a good idea. I would like the roster limitation idea a lot better if it had that option, which is where I was going with that comment. Otherwise I’m kind of ambivalent about the whole idea of limiting rosters.

  3. CariocaCardinal says:

    Is it really a playoff issue? What happens after the playoffs are over? What if two teams that have no 40 man roster players involved in the playoffs are paying – would there be no limit for those games?

    • Brian Walton says:

      Nothing has passed yet, but my understanding is that it is not related to the minor league playoffs. If an active MLB roster limit of 28 is established, for example, that would be in effect for all games, all teams from 9/1 through the end of the regular season. If a team wanted to keep their minor leaguers down until the minors playoffs are over, the maximum MLB roster inequity in the interim would be three players (28 vs. 25).

      Thinking about your point, another possible spin could be that if team A didn’t yet call up any players, then both team A and opponent team B could each use only 25 when they face off. That would be an interesting alternative, but it could mean different roster sizes in each game. The specifics of what is being considered is not clear. I didn’t get the feeling they were going this way, but until it is done, it isn’t done.

  4. blingboy says:

    What is the reason for September roster expansion in the first place?

  5. Bw52 says:

    September callups also have been used as rewards for longtime system guys to get some MLB time .Besides why take the carrot away from the minor leaguers hoping for a callup? If you limit the roster to 28 then you could take the extra incentive away from the others who might not be sure-thing callups.

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      Ok……I’ll help;;;;;;;;;;;; both Nesen and Yes…….. the Yes changes the entire FA market……. the Nesen ” offer in denial” is directly correlated to the current LA negotiations. ……. And that salary bail for Boston ……….. Boston will eventually sell at least the 49 %………..

    • Brian Walton says:

      Not clear to me how directly and quickly additional TV rights money will flow into the player free agent market.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        Fox knows the outcomes to all of these negotiations. ……. They have known them for years……. They seek only control………and parity……….. the commissioner’s discretionary powers are formidable…… Both the Yankees and the Dodgers will blow past the luxury tax now ……… added money will go into revenues sharing grants………. he also has the power to regulate the % of what teams pay for their TV deals………… That was one of the reasons 2010 collusion hearings were kept secret ……….. guidelines were agreed upon……….. first test was AP……….. I’m sure you recognize the Boston to LA play…… these were all part of the negotiations ………… this is Fox at work ……….. you may well ask …. what made AP an asset of Fox/MLB ………….. ???? But I digress……..that’s already ancient history here.

        • CariocaCardinal says:


          • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

            rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrravine…………….is worth Billions and Billions…… that’s Guggenheim …………….. the new stadium will be creatively located………….. Angel’s worth that much less?….. Fox bet against themselves last year?………………….

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Carioca, yes Westie can have iffy, daffy, leftwingy, paranoid or oddly communicated thoughts.
            It is also by now very well established that you regard some of Westie’s posts as snoozers, while for my part I focus on positives, like the attractive dots creatively interjected among the words.
            Please try to shorten the number of zzzzes, so Westie still feels loved. Thanks for your consideration of this idea!

            • CariocaCardinal says:

              For the most part it is only Westie’s conspiracy theories that put me to sleep. They lost any entertainment value many moons ago and they never had any informational value. If Westie wants love he should try dabbling in the non-fiction world sometime.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    This fall, 5 relief pitchers, Rondon, Siegrist, Fornataro, Blazek, and Butler were added to the roster. Its nice to see non-bonus babies make progress up the ladder. They were signed respectively as an international amateur, and in 41st, 6th, 35th, and 24th rounds. Systems need lots of pitchers.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      We already added RHPs Miller and Kelley, SS Jackson, and 3B Carpenter from the 2009 draft, during the regular season. A couple of bonus babies and one $1,000 signing bonus guy.

  7. Brian Walton says:

    Siegrist remains a starter, at least for now.

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