With the implementation of a universal DH growing in likelihood, NBC Sports’ Alex Pavlovic took a look at how Gabe Kapler’s Giants might handle the new position after the lockout. Pavlovic extrapolates from the team’s usage of the DH position in interleague play and in 2020 that the team would prefer to use the DH spot as a chance to bolster the lineup’s offense, not to give a quasi-off day to a regular position player. Accordingly, the resurgent Darin Ruf could see his playing time increase as his defensive limitations have limited him from being a true mainstay in Kapler’s starting lineup card.
With plenty of payroll maneuverability and a few Kris Bryant and Buster Posey-sized holes in the lineup, however, the possibility remains that the Giants splurge on a big bat to take the lion’s share of DH reps. Pavlovic speculates that free agents Kyle Schwarber or Joc Pederson could slot into the new position, owing to their typically strong numbers with the platoon advantage and ties to the team’s top executives. Should the team pass on either left-handed hitter, as well as come up short on their Seiya Suzuki pursuit or a Bryant reunion, a right-handed power bat could be signed to claim the DH spot. Nelson Cruz and Nick Castellanos remain open-market options for a team looking to keep its strong offensive performance in 2021 going, with the benefit of the DH position negating the need for either to suit up in the spacious Oracle Park outfield.
Some more baseball news from around the league…
- Braves Hall of Fame third baseman and friend of the site Chipper Jones appeared on the Dukes & Bell podcast to offer some input on fellow Brave Freddie Freeman’s prolonged stay on the free agent market. Jones posits that Freeman is “probably a little frustrated [an extension wasn’t reached] in Spring Training last year” and acknowledges (correctly) that non-Atlanta teams are courting the first baseman as well. Of note to Atlanta fans however is Chipper’s comment that he and Freeman have often talked about the latter’s place in Atlanta history, and how his potentially-retired number would slide between Atlanta icons Dale Murphy and Bobby Cox.
- Count Arizona city managers as another group taking issue with baseball’s delayed start to spring training. Bill Shakin of the Los Angeles Times documents how the MLB lockout has negatively impacted the host cities of baseball’s Cactus League, who are already reeling from limited tourism revenue the past few years due to the pandemic. Sites like Camelback Ranch, the Dodgers’ $300MM spring training ballpark in Glendale, are leased out to MLB teams for $1 a year with the express understanding that teams will drive tourism in the area. Due to clauses in the lease agreements signed by teams however, a certain number of home games are required to be played during spring training without the incurrence of legal penalty. The language of these clauses meant that the pandemic and other “acts of God” spared teams from any legal recourse being taken by host cities in recent years, but teams falling short of that game threshold due to the avoidable, league-induced lockout may not provide the same protection. It seems unlikely for the Dodgers and a handful of other teams to be kicked out of their Cactus League homes, but a lawsuit from Arizona cities looking to recoup lost hospitality industry funds may soon be the next legal storyline for baseball fans to follow.