MLB, MLBPA Agree to 7-Inning Doubleheaders, Extra-Inning Rule for 2021

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

Members of the Tampa Bay Rays warms up during batting practice before Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Major League Baseball and its Players Association have a deal in place regarding health and safety protocols for the upcoming season.

Mark Feinsand @Feinsand

MLB has officially announced its health and safety protocols for the 2021 season, including on-field rules and roster info: https://t.co/ETTqHiiyxy

Joel Sherman of the New York Post initially reported the news Monday

The pact includes seven-inning doubleheaders like there were during the 2020 campaign. There will also still be modified extra innings with runners starting on second base in an effort to prevent marathon games during the regular season.

There will not be a universal designated hitter like there was last season.

Active rosters will consist of 26 players, with rosters expanding to 28 players in September. Of note, each team will be allowed to carry up to five taxi-squad players.

That a deal is in place in February is a drastic improvement from last year, when the two sides debated for months on a number of topics, including the length of the season, whether player contracts would be prorated, how many teams would make the playoffs and if the National League would also use designated hitters.

It wasn't until June 23 that the MLBPA announced the two sides had come to an agreement for a 60-game season.

While the COVID-19 pandemic was undoubtedly a complicating factor in last year's negotiations, the prolonged back-and-forth delayed the season even more and led to plenty of frustration.

As for this year's agreement, Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports noted the union was in favor of the universal designated hitter while the league was not.

The league said it was not a health and safety issue. One likely reason the union would want to expand the DH rule is because it would create more job opportunities.

Per the agreement, face coverings will be required while at club facilities and in the dugout. Players will not be required to wear masks on the field. Sherman also reported there will be tracing technology in place that is similar to what the NBA uses to help identify close contacts if there is a positive COVID-19 test. 

When the season starts, the powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers will look to defend the World Series crown they won in six games against the Tampa Bay Rays.