The Baltimore Orioles and the rest of the MLB will soon be dealing with a shortened season filled with unusual rules.
One of the odd situations that could benefit the Baltimore Orioles in the reopening of the 2020 MLB season involves the use of what the League is calling a “taxi squad.”
The taxi squad is the replacement for the minor leagues, as no teams will have access to Triple-A players to call up with a traditional 40-man roster. Instead, each team will have a 60-player pool and an eventual 28-man roster. In the first two weeks, each team can have 30 players on their roster, but they must weed it down to 28. There is no limit to the number of pitchers on the roster.
According to Jayson Stark with The Athletic, each team has to submit their 60-man squad by Sunday, June 27 at 3 PM. Then, when the season begins, the teams can have three taxi-squad players travel with them, but one must be a catcher. With the runner-on-second extra-innings rule, teams will most likely not need to use their benches as they would have in traditional games.
The men in the player pool who are not traveling with the Orioles will be given a location for practices that is not Camden Yards. The rules about earning service time for pool players and taxi squad members has not yet been released.
Unless magic happens, the Orioles will most likely not make it to the 10-team play offs, so this season could be interesting for fans. With the need for a taxi-squad catcher, Adley Rutschman could end up getting some time with the team. This would keep him under the watchful eyes of Brandon Hyde and the rest of the coaching squad. We might also get to see prospect pitchers like Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall in the taxi squad.
In an interesting wrinkle, the Orioles GM could soon get busy trading and signing. Since the shutdown, MLB teams have not been able to move players. But, the transactions can begin on June 26 at noon. There are still a bunch of free agents who were never signed for the 2020 season. If the O’s want to add a veteran or two, especially in the young outfield, there’s a few out there like Yasiel Puig and Austin Jackson. If they want an interesting veteran, utility player Ben Zobrist is still available, too. The fact that players are making minimal salaries in 2020, signing a few veterans could be in the Orioles budget-minded goals.
The new rules will certainly keep us on our toes as we watch what teams do in the next few days. Baseball is on its way. It’s been 238 days since Game 7 of the World Series, and 104 days since the MLB shut down on March 12.