Should MLB Expand to 26-Man Rosters?

From SABR member Jerry Crasnick at on June 22:

According to historian Cliff Blau of the Society for American Baseball Research, big league teams in the late 1950s and early ’60s carried 28 players on Opening Day and were required to reduce their rosters to 25 a month later. Then rosters could expand to 40 in September.

Since the formation of the players’ union in 1968, the rules have called for a minimum of 24 on a roster and a maximum of 25. In 1986, all the teams acted in unison and carried 24 players, or one under the limit. Relievers Todd Worrell and Jesse Orosco wound up playing the outfield in emergencies, pitcher Dan Schatzeder made 14 appearances as a pinch hitter, and the Mets and Red Sox sacrificed a potential competitive advantage and stayed with 24 in the World Series.

The players’ association filed a grievance, but arbitrator George Nicolau ruled for the owners because there was no language in the basic agreement forbidding teams from colluding on roster sizes. The labor agreement now decrees that the number of players carried on an active roster “is an individual matter to be determined solely by each Club for its own benefit. Clubs shall not act in concert with other Clubs.”

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Originally published: June 23, 2011. Last Updated: June 23, 2011.