Major League Baseball is expected to propose a universal designated hitter for the 2020 season as part of their talks with owners and the MLB Players Association in the coming days, according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.
Per Bowden, “Most executives believed prior to the coronavirus shutdown that the [universal DH] would be implemented by 2021 or 2022.” But, due to the unique circumstances in this case, the implementation of the designated hitter in both the American and National Leagues could “be a way to cut down on injuries in a worrisome time,” as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman notes.
The ramifications this has for the Red Sox are not all that significant seeing how the club already has one of the best DHs in baseball in J.D. Martinez. However, if what The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports is accurate, and it likely is, the Sox would play around 80 games this season against opponents “only from their own division and the same geographic division in the opposite league.”
In other words, if there is baseball to be played in 2020, the only other clubs the Red Sox would face in the regular season would be the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, and Marlins.
It’s unclear at this point how many of those games would take place in National League ballparks, but the dread of having to constantly worry about the pitcher’s spot in the lineup in those particular contests would not be an issue if the universal DH is indeed implemented.
Interleague play would take on a whole new meaning in this scenario, and it would certainly serve as an adjustment period for certain National League clubs and a welcomed change for others.
Before anything concrete is laid out though, there are still several hurdles for MLB to jump through.
First, the league has a conference call scheduled with its owners on Monday where plans for a potential 2020 season will be discussed.
If the owners approve of MLB’s plans, that same proposal will be presented to the MLBPA on Tuesday.
Like I said though, there are still plenty of obstacles ahead, especially those of the financial variety.