The universal designated hitter
Despite spending parts of 11 seasons of his 15-year big-league career in the American League, Black, as a “traditionalist,” was not a fan of the designated hitter entering the 2020 season. He also coached or was in the front office for American League teams for nearly a decade but he has managed exclusively in the National League for a total of 13 seasons now so he has had his fair share of baseball both with and without the designated hitter in the last 40+ years in pro-baseball (he was drafted in 1979 and made his MLB debut in 1981).
However, with the quick ramping up of pitchers for Summer Training and the season, he felt that the DH “was needed” in 2020 but he was “swayed” by what he saw in 2020 to keep the designated hitter for 2021 and beyond.
"“I think as far as the DH, I thought it was needed this year,” said Black. “I really did. Just based on how we had to get ready for the season [more quickly than usual] but in the big picture–I’ve said this recently–that I think that the pitcher’s stuff, I think the velocities [and] secondary pitches are to the point now where it is really hard for a pitcher to contribute offensively to a degree that it impacts a team or helps a team. Of 400 pitchers in the big leagues at one time…maybe 150 starting pitchers, there’s only maybe a couple, a handful, of hitters that really can impact the game with their bat the type of stuff today. Again, I think maybe it’s time to think about the DH in both leagues.”"
He said that the MLBPA, Commissioner’s Office, owners, and GMs will “talk about that moving forward.”
He later added this wrinkle that may keep in the strategy that the NL teams use more than AL teams but it would keep the DH too. Essentially, it would be a compromise.
"“There’s been talk about–and this is not a bad thought–to start with the DH and if your starting pitcher is removed, you lose the DH and the pitcher has to hit from that point on,” said Black."
As Black noted, that would possibly do away with the opener (and the Tampa Bay Rays got to the World Series by going with that a lot) but it would keep the strategy in the game that NL fans, players, and executives like but you could have the DH (and later, still use your bench players).