Minor League Roster Limits Expanded For Full-Season Levels In 2021
Dugouts will be a little more crowded around the minors in 2021, as roster limits for all four full-season levels have been expanded.
For Double-A and Triple-A, teams will be limited to 28 active players. For High-A and Low-A the limits are now 30 active players. The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler first reported that these were expected to be the limits.
That’s a significant increase from the 25 players that were allowed for all full-season levels before. For the short-season and Rookie-level leagues, 35-player active rosters were long the norm, but teams have been limited to 25 players on an active roster for all four full-season levels before 2021.
The newly expanded rosters will provide Major League Baseball teams some of the roster flexibility they have been requesting. At the Triple-A level, it will likely help teams stock pitchers to fill out bullpens to work around usage and rest requirements that the MLB team often imposes on the Triple-A club. Often Triple-A teams have restrictions on the number of pitchers on the 40-man MLB roster that can be used in any particular game, as the MLB team wants to ensure there is always a rested and ready call-up if the big league team needs roster reinforcement.
An expanded 28-player roster will allow teams to add another arm or two that can mean the difference between using a position player and another actual pitcher in a bullpen game. It also will likely allow teams to more comfortably carry an extra position player to provide a fill-in when a player is slightly injured.
At the two Class A levels, the 30-player limit will allow teams to avoid the roster shenanigans that have long been an aspect of those levels. To get players rest and/or to get others playing time, teams often in the past have had paper moves where players (pitchers especially) were optioned to a lower level for a few days, even if they never left the team and remained part of the travel party.
Teams will not be required to carry as many active players as the roster rules allow.