Major League Baseball used the shortened 2020 season to experiment with different rule changes, including a universal designated hitter and an expanded postseason that increased the number of teams playing in October.
The universal DH was popular among coaches and players in the National League, as lineups were lengthened and pitchers no longer had to hit. The expanded postseason, meanwhile, did not have as many fans because the Players Association felt it discouraged teams from fielding a competitive product.
As a compromise, MLB offered players the universal DH back in exchange for the expanded postseason also returning for the 2021 season. However, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement prior to the start of Spring Training.
While there was hope talks could be revisited before Opening Day, that possibility is considered highly unlikely now. According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, the league is proceeding as if the universal DH and expanded postseason won’t be returning for the 2021 season:
An expanded postseason and a universal designated hitter for the 2021 season are both dead issues with no recent movement or planned further discussion, multiple people with knowledge of the communications between Major League Baseball and the Players Association said this week. While reversals never can be totally ruled out, both sides are proceeding as though there will not be any last-minute addition of the DH in the National League, or additional playoff teams from the current field of 10, for 2021.
This latest development is nothing short of disappointing, as the universal DH and expanded postseason were both beneficial in their own ways. The universal DH helped prevent pitcher injuries, took away an obvious advantage American League teams had and created jobs around the league.
The expanded postseason was also useful from a business standpoint in that it generated additional TV revenue for the league. Had it been approved for the 2021 season, MLB reportedly would have received $100 million alone from ESPN.
Clayton Kershaw hoped universal DH would return
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was among the many players who hoped the universal DH would return for the 2021 season. He believes the rule benefitted the Dodgers more than any other team because of how deep their roster is.
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