Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the proposed “framework” discussed by commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on Wednesday includes the designated hitter rule for the 2020-21 seasons. As the current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, 2021, it is easy to see the DH becoming permanent in the NL.
This isn’t a particularly revelatory suggestion. There was talk, even before the pandemic, of bringing the DH rule to the National League. In the context of ongoing discussions between owners and the league, this could be seen as a very light concession on the owners’ part. Adding the DH to the NL would create 15 more legitimate job openings (as opposed to bench roles) and would allow more one-dimensional players to have a better market in free agency.
Some NL teams would benefit more than others with a DH rule, obviously. The Mets come to mind, having a very obvious place to put Dominic Smith and Yoenis Céspedes. The Phillies would be able to give Jay Bruce regular at-bats, as would the Rockies with Ian Desmond. The Brewers could slide Ryan Braun into the DH role with Avisaíl García playing in the outfield every day.
If we never see the DH in the National League again, then it’s fitting that Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner (now with the Diamondbacks) hit the last home run as a pitcher. He homered off of Rockies pitcher Jeff Hoffman on September 24 last year.