After the Colorado Rockies and the 14 other National League teams adopted the designated hitter for the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season, it looks like it will be here to stay.
One of the biggest questions for Major League Baseball this offseason is determining what 2020 temporary rule changes will stay including three-batter minimums for relievers, expanded playoffs, and a universal designated hitter. As of now, according to Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription required), it looks like it will be a “safe bet” that the Colorado Rockies and the other National League teams will keep the rule for 2021 “unless the MLB and players’ union animus erupts to the point of complete dysfunction.”
As we saw in the months that sports were shutdown, the public negotiations between the owners and MLBPA did not look good and some may even call it “complete dysfunction” but they were still able to agree on a 60-game slate with some changes. Personally, I think because of what the two sides were able to agree on (even though they disagreed on a lot), the designated hitter is likely to stay for the NL regardless.
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Obviously, we don’t know how things will shake out for the length of the regular-season considering the state of the pandemic but the two sides will almost certainly have to work out some kind of agreement before Spring Training starts in February.
As for the Rockies, considering that ownership has essentially said that the team is hamstrung for cash and Rockies GM Jeff Bridich has yet to speak to the media in regards to a postmortem on the 2020 season or his offseason outlook, the Rockies will likely use the DH as they did in 2020: as a platoon, half-day off situation for some guys, especially ones that are recovering from injury.
As their current roster is without re-signing anybody, signing anyone else, or trading anybody, a platoon of Charlie Blackmon, Raimel Tapia, and Ian Desmond in the role is likely.
Perhaps, with the owners meetings coming next week and the Winter Meetings coming next month (both will be virtual), we may hear from Rockies CEO Dick Monfort and GM Jeff Bridich, who has yet to speak about the post-mortem of 2020 season and his offseason plans, breaking from the Rockies’ tradition to speak about the last season and their offseason outlook within about a week of their season ending.