The word on the street is that we’ll likely see designated hitters in the National League in 2020. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported over the weekend that it’d be in the restart proposal from Major League Baseball. And now Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets that the players are expected to approve.
Whether the universal DH stays beyond an unusual 2020 season remains to be seen. There has been plenty of talk of attempting some temporary rule changes and then re-assessing them as potential permanent fixtures. The league and players would still need to agree to a post-2020 DH after the fact.
If indeed we see a sudden introduction of the DH, National League teams will have quite a lot to think about. After all, they didn’t compile their rosters with that in mind. We’ll be examining each team in detail over the coming days.
In the long run, if the change sticks, it won’t be hard for NL teams to adapt to the new rule. It isn’t as if American League outfits haven’t had decades to play with different approaches. With thirty DH slots around the game, along with a 26th active roster spot, it’d also be quite a lot easier for veteran slugger types to hang on a while longer at the tail end of their careers.
For now, purists can hope it’s only temporary. But if we’re being honest, it’s a bit difficult to imagine this change being pulled back once it goes into effect. Players have long sought the universal DH, believing it creates added earning opportunities for veterans, and there’s an argument that it’s a favorable development for the game overall since it eliminates pitcher plate appearances. (There are countervailing arguments, of course.) At minimum, teams will likely be focused primarily on other bargaining points when it comes to conceiving of the game in 2021 and beyond.