New Offer Reportedly Includes the Designated Hitter in the NL for *BOTH* This Year and Next Year

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New Offer Reportedly Includes the Designated Hitter in the NL for *BOTH* This Year and Next Year

Chicago Cubs

To be sure, we knew that if a schedule could be set this year, it would include the designated hitter in the National League for a variety of reasons, ranging from pitcher protection and health to a geographic schedule that might require extra interleague play.

But what we could only speculate on from there was that adding the spot this year would open the door to do so in future years. My take was that once the players got the spot, it was going to be a term negotiated into the post-2021 CBA. And if that were the expectation, you might just see it stick around for 2021, too (because it would weird and silly to go DH in 2020, no DH in 2021, then DH again in 2022).

Until now, though, that was only my speculation. Now, it sounds like the DH in 2021 is actually in the owners’ latest proposal:

The players have long wanted the extra value a DH spot provides (creates 15-ish more slightly-higher-paid spots), and I have long wanted it in the NL so that the rules are the same between the leagues. I generally anticipated the DH would finally be coming in the next CBA, but because of the pandemic-influenced season in 2020, we might now get it two years earlier, and for good. That’s going to be a really weird one for the history books.

Also, the way the universal DH rule should work to harmonize the leagues? You get your DH for the starting pitcher, but only so long as the starting pitcher is in the game. Once he’s out, the DH is out. Not sure that would ever happen, but it would definitely make for some fun strategic conversations (and would also kill The Opener, which many folks don’t care for – just sayin’).

As for the Cubs and the DH, we’ve talked before about the near-term impacts, though I see it more benefiting the Reds and the Brewers in the Central than the Cubs. For the Cubs, a DH this season will probably mean changes in the outfield rotation, with Ian Happ probably seeing more time in left field when Kyle Schwarber DHs, and that, in turn, will mean more starts in center field for Albert Almora Jr. and maybe also Steven Souza Jr. (or Nico Hoerner?). It could also mean the Cubs will have the benefit of getting both Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini into the lineup on the regular, especially if they decide to carry a third catcher with the (likely) 30-man roster.

Longer-term, though, it’s harder to predict what a permanent DH spot will mean for the Cubs. If you think Schwarber is plausibly going to lose a step in left field sooner rather than later, it might make you more comfortable offering him a long-term extension. It also means you worry less about what to do if Miguel Amaya proves ready behind the plate soon, because you can easily accommodate the bats if you like. Unfortunately, the Cubs don’t yet have any of the kind of MONSTER BAT, no glove prospects you’d be looking to say, woo hoo, there’s finally a spot for that guy now!

More on the latest proposal here, by the way.



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.