National League Expected to Add Designated Hitter This Year

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National League Expected to Add Designated Hitter This Year

Chicago Cubs

Although I’ve long been a proponent of the National League adopting the designated hitter (short version: it’s never leaving the AL, and I do not want the leagues to have uneven rules), I certainly didn’t want a global pandemic to be the triggering cause. Obviously none of us wanted any of this.

Such as the situation is, when MLB proposes a course this week, it will reportedly include a geographically-adjusted schedule, where teams will primarily play games in their own division, and then also play some games against the same geographic division in the other league (i.e., the Cubs will play a lot of the NL Central, and then some of the AL Central).

That means a much greater percentage of games this year would be interleague, yielding a big question on the DH. And since the change in schedule would not include a change of the divisions (bummer), it was still an open question whether the season would include a universal DH, or if home park rules would prevail in interleague games.

As the intro implied, the plan is likely to be for universal DHs:

Having a DH this year will general all kinds of interesting discussions as it relates to the Cubs – carrying three catchers so that Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini can both be in the lineup almost every day? letting Steven Souza, Jr. play more left field? Nico Hoerner up sooner because have space for another bat and want another high-contact type?

But I mostly want to leave that stuff aside for the moment, though, because it seems to me the much bigger issue adding the DH this year would raise: does this make it all the more likely that the next CBA (after 2021) will include a universal DH? And if so, would the league and the players just decide to go ahead and add the DH next year, too, since they’ve now experienced it and it’s coming anyway?

In other words, if the proposal for this year – this weird, partial, make-due-with-what-you-can-and-pray-it-works year – includes a universal DH, we might look back in a couple years and realize this was the moment the rule changed forever.

More this week as the proposal comes out, from the owners to the players, and the inevitable and uncomfortable back and forth begins.

I’m gonna turn my baseball brain off and enjoy ‘The Last Dance’ now.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.