September Call-Up Roster to Change in 2020

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HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27: A basket of baseballs is seen before the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park on August 27, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The 2019 MLB season is hitting the stretch run, and clubs have already started their expanded rosters as the September 1 deadline has arrived. For many teams, that means help is on the way. However, after MLB announced that there would be changes coming to the roster expansion rule in 2020, teams will have to adjust next year. Let’s take a look at how call-ups work and the changes coming next season.

Plenty of New Faces

Plenty of new faces will be making their MLB debut or returning to the Big Leagues after spending time in the minors. It is a time for them to show the manager and coaches what they can do over the final month and hopefully get an invitation to Spring Training.

What Is the 40-Man Roster?

Most fans understand the concept of the 40-man roster. Simply put, it’s a list of players on a team’s active roster along with minor league prospects who can quickly and easily be called up anytime in case of needs at the MLB level.

How Players Get Called Up

Teams determine which prospects will be added to their extended rosters. Usually, September call-ups are players from the minors who will play and get Major League experience. Teams look for utility players who can fit in anywhere when needed. They shore up their batteries (pitchers and catchers). All call-ups are there to provide reinforcements down the stretch — especially important for teams in contention for playoff berths. Teams normally add around six to eight extra players. However, we have seen organizations use all 15 available spots, especially those in the Wild Card chase.

Not Everyone Likes the September Expansion

Not everyone is happy with the idea of adding players down the stretch, especially General Managers. Outrage over the 40-man roster started back in 2009, but talks never progressed. The biggest issue was why a team would pay a minor league player the MLB salary for one month.

Complaints About the Expansion

There are other complaints about the expanded roster. For one, baseball fans grumbled about paying hard earned money to watch minor leaguers instead of the MLB stars. Others complained that the expanded roster created pace-of-play issues with Managers who use a different pitcher for each hitter. These pitching changes not only stop the game, but add minutes — and, as we know, the biggest complaint in MLB right now is the length of the game. Another issue raised was the fact that no other sport increased their rosters at any point during the season and MLB was doing it down the stretch with teams involved in pennant races.

Changes Coming in 2020

Over the last few years, more GMs began to discuss the expanded rosters and finally agreed it is time to modify the system. In 2020, the current 25-man roster will expand to 26. Though there will still be roster expansion in September, rosters will only expand from 26 to 28 players rather than the current 40. As a result, the expanded roster of up to 40 players will be eliminated. Also, all teams will be required to have 28 players on their active rosters after August 31. Currently, teams don’t have to add anyone during call-up time. Next season, however, all teams will have to expand to 28 players down the stretch.

Still Concerns

There is still talk regarding the 28-man roster for 2020. The main issue is why allow only two more players for the expanded roster? There had been rumors that the number allowed would be six, but that didn’t hold. Why have expansion at all if it’s only going to be two players? Time will tell if that concern turns out to be a hindrance and lead to even another change.

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Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.


  1. I am going to miss the 40 man roster but I agree nobody wants to pay full price to watch the minor league players. Also why only expand to 28! Should be at least 30 but no more than 32.


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