Major League Baseball and the MLBPA announced seven new rule changes that will go into effect for the 2017 season. The changes include making the new no-pitch intentional walk official.
The new intentional walk rule states that a manager must make a signal to the home plate umpire to intentionally walk a batter. Following that signal, the batter is immediately awarded first base.
The rule changes also include amendments to the replay system. Now, managers will have 30 seconds to decide whether or not to challenge a play, and replay officials will have a two-minute time limit to review plays and come to a decision. While the league’s summary of the rule allows “various exceptions,” it does not state what those exceptions are. Furthermore, crew chiefs can now call for an umpire-initiated review beginning the eighth inning as opposed to the seventh.
In addition, pitchers can no longer take a second step towards home plate. That means pitchers can no longer use hop-step deliveries, like that of Carter Capps of the Padres. A violation of this rule with runners on base is a balk, and with no runners on base is called an illegal pitch that will be called a ball.
The rules also prohibit the use of markers on the field as a reference system for fielders, an issue that came up when the Dodgers attempted to do so against the Mets at Citi Field last year.
Finally, a change was made to where base coaches have to stand, now requiring them to remain in the coaches boxes prior to each pitch. Once a ball is put in play, the coaches can move out of the box as long as they don’t interfere with play.