By Sam Bush

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have had substantive discussions over a series of proposed rule changes for 2019 and beyond that could be among the most drastic for the sport in years, according to two people familiar with those talks.

The discussions have included both on-field rule changes, pushed by Commissioner Rob Manfred, and proposals from the union to improve competitive balance.

These changes may seem radical, but the game is losing young fans by the millions, so it might be too little and too late to save the sport!

The specific proposals include:

The adoption of the designated hitter in the National League, making the DH universal across both leagues.

A rule requiring pitchers to face a minimum of three batters, except in the case of injury or when finishing an inning.

A 20-second pitch clock, a time-saving device Manfred has espoused for more than a year now.

A single trade deadline before the all-star break, to replace the traditional July 31 deadline and the Aug. 31 waiver-trade deadline.

The expansion of rosters from 25 to 26 players, with a maximum of 12 pitchers.

A reduction in mound visits from six to five per game.

A rule, which would be tested in spring training and the All-Star Game, in which each half-inning in extra innings would begin with a runner on second base.

Tweaks to the draft order to reward winning teams and penalize perennial losing teams.

A rule that would permit two-sport athletes, such as Kyler Murray, to sign major league contracts as enticement to play baseball.

Though the proposals remain in preliminary stages, and it is unclear which, if any, would be implemented in 2019 — the DH rule, for example, would almost certainly have to be pushed to future seasons, because NL teams already have largely finalized their 2019 rosters — the talks represent a significant step for a sport that has seen rising acrimony between owners and players over the slow pace of the past two free agent markets.

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