The 2020 season will be remembered by the delays of COVID-19 and mark the transition of the universal designated hitter in Major League Baseball. As the MLB and MLBPA agreement to resume the 2020 season, both sides agreed to institute the DH rule for all 30 MLB clubs including the fifteen National League clubs that were never subject to the rule outside of playing road games in American League ballparks in previous seasons. Here’s a look at how the DH rule will affect the current NL rosters and the players that will benefit the most by the new rule change.
Veterans Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall in addition to young Austin Riley will likely benefit by getting more plate appearances for the Braves this year with the DH rule present. Yonder Alonso was in camp battling for a roster spot behind All-Star first basemen Freddie Freeman and pinch hitter. Now Alonso provides value not just as a back-up first baseman and pinch-hitter but a player that can allow Freeman to have days at DH.
Corey Dickerson is Gold Glove outfielder that could benefit from some “off-days” at DH while other fringe outfielders like Matt Joyce and Matt Kemp find themselves with more relevance on a Miami Marlins roster that is in rebuild mode.
New York Mets
It’s hard to imagine the cannon arm of Yoenis Cespedes being relegated to DH but as he returns from seasons of leg injuries his MLB future may be as a designated hitter. Cespedes should join Domonic Smith and Matt Adams as the greatest Mets benefactors of the introduction of DH in their league.
Impending free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto will benefit getting some rest from behind the plate with at-bats as a hitter for a game or two but veterans Jay Bruce, Josh Harrison, and Logan Forsythe should see more appearances Phillies games as the clubs fills line-up with an extra hitter in 2020.
The defending World Series champions will now have the ability to continue to provide the likes of Howie Kendrick, Eric Thames, and Ryan Zimmerman more plate appearances. The Nationals will look to split time between their depth of infielders to keep those veteran bats in line-up as they attempt to win another title.
The Cubs have rejected the notion of dealing Kyle Schwarber to an American League team after years of rumors and speculation. Now the Cubs will benefit having the left-handed slugger as their DH in 2020 opening up more opportunity for Albert Almora, Ian Happ, and Steven Souza in the Cubs outfield.
Look to see the Reds give recovering third base slugger Eugenio Suarez some time at the position when not juggling additional starts in the Cincy line-up by others. Derek Dietrich, Jessie Winkler, Nick Senzel, and Josh VanMeter all stand to benefit from the need to fill the Reds line-up with an additional hitter.
While Ryan Braun will surely see some time as the Brew Crew’s new designated hitter, the slugging first base tandem of Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison will surely see more time on the field than they would have prior. Jedd Gyorko, Brock Holt, Orlando Arcia, and Luis Urias also will provide more depth in Milwaukee line-ups.
The Bucs third base duo of Colin Moran and Jose Osuna makes a lot of sense as Pirates that could see more playing time now. Oft-injured Gregory Polanco could see time as DH and open up additional playing time in the outfield for Jarrod Dyson, Guillermo Heredia, and JT Riddle this season.
St. Louis Cardinals
If the Cardinals could have mulligan and reverse the trade that sent Jose Martinez to Tampa Bay this past off-season they would probably do it today. The absence of Martinez this season will leave the honors to the likes of Matt Carpenter, Brad Miller, and Rangel Ravelo to fill the extra spot in the Cardinals lineup. If Dylan Carlson arrives this year, expect Dexter Fowler and Tyler O’Neill to see time at the DH position.
Slugger Kevin Cron has not been allowed to hit in Arizona line-up and hopefully, this will provide that opening for the younger Cron brother. Travis Snider, Jake Lamb, and Stephen Vogt should see additional value in Phoenix as a result of the new National League policy this season.
Expect to see Daniel Murphy, Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, Ian Desmond, and Brandon Rodgers to see more playing time as a result of the extra Rockies hitter needed in every day’s line-up. Trevor Story could get some days as DH and give the young Rodgers a chance to get some additional starts as a shortstop this season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Max Muncy could find his way into the regular DH position, opening up the second base role to Gavin Lux every day for the Dodgers. If not Muncy regularly, expect to see a rotation of outfielders Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, and A.J. Pollock getting everyday play when not playing games in outfield with Mookie Betts.
San Diego Padres
Young outfielder John Naylor and third baseman Ty France have crushed minor league pitching but found themselves struggling to move up the MLB depth chart behind crowded Padres outfield and Manny Machado, respectively. Now the duo could see themselves getting regular starts as the Padres designated hitter in 2020 and beyond.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants starting infield of Brandon Belt, Mauricio Dubon, Brandon Crawford, and Evan Longoria would have kept fellow infielders Wilmer Flores, Pablo Sandoval, and reigning AL Gold Glove second baseman Yolmer Sanchez struggling for plate appearances. Now, this trio will likely see more starts as a result of giving starting infield or these would-be bench players days at the DH position.
Current Free Agents
Free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig should find himself a new job quickly from one of these National League clubs before the restart of the 2020 season. Additional free agents that couldn’t secure homes this winter that may find new life with needed National DH are Melky Cabrera, Mark Trumbo, and Ben Zobrist.
Potential Trade Deadline Acquisitions
Several American League teams feature 2021 free agents that could make nice acquisitions by National League clubs looking to add DH to their line-up. Cleveland’s Carlos Santana, Detroit’s C.J. Cron, Texas’ Shin-Soo Choo, and Oakland’s Mark Canha are all currently eligible for free agency following 2020 and could be dealt before the deadline by their current clubs if they find themselves struggling in the early weeks of the season.