Whether a universal designated hitter ultimately returns to baseball in 2021, National League clubs are currently operating under the assumption that it will not, Cubs team president Jed Hoyer said Thursday.
“I think there’s an awareness that that could change, but that is how the National League is going forward,” Hoyer said. “We’re going forward under the assumption that we don’t have it.”
Major League Baseball and the players’ union negotiated to implement a universal DH (among other 2020-only rule changes) for the abbreviated pandemic season. None of those rules have been reimplemented for the 2021 season, the final year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported last month discussions for a universal DH returning in 2021 were expected to continue in December, but as Hoyer’s comments indicate, nothing has come to fruition yet. The universal DH is one of several uncertainties involving 2021 league rules, along with roster size and if there will be a cap on the number of pitchers teams can carry on their active rosters.
Ahead of last season, the league expanded active roster size from 25 players to 26, with a cap of 13 pitchers. Due to the shortened season, they bumped roster size to 30 for 2020 only, trimming it to 28 as the season went on — with no cap on the number of pitchers.
The offseason is more than a month old, and with the uncertainty around whether any of those rules will return next season, teams are tasked with building their rosters without full clarity. Hoyer, however, said last month clubs have to be comfortable with that uncertainty and echoed those comments on Thursday.
“I think everyone in the industry wishes we had more clarity, and everyone wishes that things were different,” he said. “But at the same time, they’re just not — and they’re not for a real reason.
“I don’t look at it as frustrating. It’s just life in a pandemic. I think we have to realize sometimes where we are in a priority list and realize that some things, we probably have to wait on more than usual. It’s not really frustrating. It’s just what we’re going through.
“I think we have less clarity and less information than usual, but I don’t think it’s completely paralyzing things.”