A memo from Major League Baseball disclosed that the players’ union rejected a deal for the universal designated hitter and the expanded playoffs, as first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman on Monday.
Both the DH in the National League — which has featured pitchers batting since its inception in 1876 — and the expanded postseason that admitted eight teams per league instead of five made its debut during the 60-game coronavirus-impacted 2020 season with positive feedback.
Pitchers have long been a liability at the plate with teams opting not to spend the necessary time to make them legitimate options at the plate as they might have been in years past. Getting the designated hitter into the National League creates more jobs, raises the profile of offenses around the circuit, and provides more entertainment for the fans.
The expanded playoffs, while allowing more teams to enjoy playoff races deeper into the season, create more revenue from the excitement generated by the final weeks of the season and the extra playoff games that come with it — both in the stands under normal circumstances and through television deals.
MLB’s memo and the union’s denial of the move doesn’t necessarily strike down the idea of there being no designated hitter in baseball come 2021.
As ESPN’s Buster Olney outlined, the union’s perspective is that the universal DH “should not be tied to” the expanded playoffs. Because the two aspects were linked together, the union turned it down.
That opens up the possibility that if the universal DH is proposed on its own, it could still be accepted. Time is running out, though, as spring training is roughly three weeks away.