MLB Memo: Assume No DH in NL Next Season

Photo: Hannah Foslien - Getty Images

There is a lot of uncertainty floating around Major League Baseball this offseason. Executives still don’t know how much money their teams will make in 2021. Because of that, mid-level players are stuck in a 3-month free agency period that might not move for them until March.

There’s still no Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and players union yet either. That has led to roster questions among teams that is suffocating movement too. We still don’t know what roster sizes will be or if the NL will allow designated hitters.

Universal DH Latest

Pretty much everyone, other than the Minnesota Twins, wants the NL to adopt the DH but it still hasn’t happened. Now, according to The Athletic, the MLB sent a memo last week instructing teams to operate under the assumption that NL pitchers will be hitting for themselves in 2021.

MLB instructed clubs in a memo last week to proceed under the assumption the DH will not be used in the NL this year, though few will complain if the league and union reach agreement to the contrary.

Ken Rosenthal – The Athletic

How this is written, you wonder if the MLB used the memo as a bargaining move in CBA negotiations with the MLBPA. If you read about why the universal DH hasn’t been implemented yet, even if most around baseball want it, then a bargaining chip memo sent by the league makes sense.

The MLB owners won’t agree to the universal DH unless they get something back in negotiations (ex.: expanded playoffs, etc), according to The Athletic. We’ll see if their demands are met, but if not, it doesn’t look like the MLB is budging. At least, not according to the above memo.

Here’s how The Athletic laid out the hangup between the MLB and MLBPA, when negotiating the universal DH.

If Commissioner Rob Manfred were to ask all 30 team owners to vote on a universal designated hitter for 2021 and beyond, he would get the necessary 25 votes, according to sources familiar with each organization’s thinking. If Tony Clark, head of the players union, were to ask his players to vote on the same issue, it’s assumed a strong majority would be in favor of the universal DH.

So what’s the hang-up? It’s simple. The clubs feel that if they are going to agree to the universal DH, they want something in return, whether it’s an agreement for expanded playoffs or any other trade-off that makes sense.

The Athletic – Jim Bowden

Good News for Minnesota Twins

As mentioned earlier, one group who was happy to see that memo sent out, was the Minnesota Twins’ front office. Their biggest roster unknown for 2021 is superstar DH, Nelson Cruz. He’s led the team in just about every hitting category, during his two seasons here, but he’s old (41).

He and the Twins have both professed their fondness for each other during the offseason and they have to be the favorite to land him. The sticking point right now, is contract term.

The Twins have a 1-year deal on the negotiating table for Cruz but he wants two seasons. The likelihood of that offer coming from another team, increases greatly if the National League adopts the designated hitter. The change would open 15 new job opportunities for Nellie.

But if there’s no NL DH in 2021, how do Nelson Cruz and his agent counter the Twins’ 1-year offer? Do they drop their 2-year demands down to a 1-year + a team option contract? If so, I bet the Twins excitedly agree and Nelson is back for 2021 (and maybe 2022).

Even if the NL goes without a DH, Cruz could get a two-year offer from another American League team. Getting a 2-year offer elsewhere would force Minnesota into a difficult decision. But whether it’s one or two years, the Twins need to make sure Nelson Cruz comes back. It would be a huge mistake to let him walk.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan