Major League Baseball might have found a way to get the designated hitter into the National League after decades of resistance. All it took was a pandemic to delay and likely shorten the 2020 season. Rumors have been flying this week about MLB‘s plan to play the current season with several different approaches under consideration. One direction, which surfaced Sunday evening would see the DH come to the NL for at least one season.
Jim Bowden was among the first to announce MLB is considering the approach. The former general manager posted on Twitter the league is looking at a “universal” DH for 2020. MLB insider Jon Heyman soon followed suit on his own Twitter account, saying NL owners have been resistant but a desire to avoid injuries in the shortened season could convince them to accept the idea.
Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation followed up with an article saying the idea for the NL to get the DH will be part of the more comprehensive plan MLB is said to be rolling out this week. Taylor explained that avoiding injuries is only one of the reasons the designated hitter is being looked at for the NL. The other is that the 2020 schedule is reportedly going to be unique as it will be built to limit travel as much as possible.
The Chicago Cubs, for instance, will play almost all of their games against the NL and AL Central. If MLB formalizes this plan, it means teams are going to see more interleague play than they would in a normal season. Instead of trying to figure out a fair way to do “home team rules,” as has been the case in past seasons, the league wants to negate any advantage AL franchises could have.
Taylor points out that while most people around baseball have said any changes in rules due to the coronavirus outbreak would be one-year-only, the universal DH could stick around. There are those in MLB that have been trying to get the NL to add the DH for several years. Taylor believes this is the kind of rule that could be adopted in 2020 and then pushed for when owners and players begin talks about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
While there’s still some hammering out to be done, baseball fans could find out what the plans for the upcoming season are in the next few days. Other rumors have suggested baseball will resume in earnest with a short spring training in June and the regular season will kick off in July.