Major League Baseball used the abbreviated 2020 season to test out a number of rule changes, including a universal designated hitter that was well-received by players and coaches despite initial pushback.
There have been conflicting reports thus far as to whether it will stick around going forward. Team owners reportedly want the universal DH to return for the 2021 season, but only if the union agrees to keep the expanded postseason.
The Players Association wasn’t in favor of the new format this past season due to the amount of teams that qualified for the playoffs. A whopping 16 clubs advanced to the postseason, which by far was the most in history.
As such, MLB is seeking a trade-off with the MLBPA. The union, however, is hesitant to give in, believing the league also likes the universal DH and will bring it back regardless, via Andrew Marchand and Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
MLB has indicated it would trade a universal DH (which the union favors) to expand the playoffs, probably to 14 teams. The union believes MLB also wants to have the DH used in the NL also and has let it be known this is not a trade.
The universal DH proved beneficial this past season in that it created additional jobs across the National League and helped prevent pitcher injuries. The Los Angeles Dodgers were among the teams to benefit from the rule change, as it allowed them to give more opportunities to players who otherwise would have been limited to spot starts and pinch-hit appearances.
The expanded postseason also was useful in that it created additional TV revenue for teams that suffered financial significant losses due to the absence of fans.
While both sides will have mixed opinions on these rule changes, there is no doubt that they are positive for the league and should return for the 2021 season.
General belief universal DH will stick around next year
After the latest round of talks between MLB and the players association, teams now are expecting the universal DH to return next year. It would behoove the league to make an official announcement as soon as possible so NL teams can properly construct their rosters.
The lack of an official announcement is one of the biggest reasons why free agency has gotten off to a slow start. If NL teams get word there will in fact be a universal DH next season, it would help jumpstart the market for the glut of bats available.
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