How can a team accurately project their 2021 lineup when they don’t even know if a position will exist?
The entire National League has no idea how to move forward with their designated hitter plans for next year, as the DH has yet to be confirmed in the NL for 2021. The Rockies could actually see less of a disadvantage from the indecision compared to other NL teams, but it still doesn’t negate the blasphemy as for how this rule hasn’t been settled yet. 2020 action featured a DH in the NL for the first time ever. With a new collective bargaining agreement set for 2022, the rule will presumably become concrete.
Renee Dechert pointed out in September how Ian Desmond will “[presumably] become a DH given his ability to hit left-handed pitchers (.297/.350/.626 in 2019).” If the DH isn’t implemented in 2021, Desmond could instead be labeled an expensive pinch hitter for left-handed relievers. He is under contract with the Rockies for one more season, which means Colorado will likely elect to shape their younger outfielders next year instead of committing extensive outfield time to the 35-year-old. If the outfield roster was too packed for David Dahl, it could easily be for Desmond, too.
Bud Black used one-year acquisition Matt Kemp as his most frequent starter at DH in 2020 (21 games). The acquisition for Kemp came promptly after Desmond opted out of the 2020 season, and Kemp is again a free agent this winter. It could further suggest Desmond may pick up in 2021 where Kemp left off.
The Rockies have been cutting costs this winter, but for teams that haven’t, the DH indecision may keep them from issuing out a contract they otherwise would. Free agent candidates like Adam Duvall and Kyle Schwarber could be out of work a little longer than expected as their National League value could depend on a few letters on the lineup card. (How MLB is hurting free agents by dragging feet on National League DH rule for 2021 | CBS Sports)
Bud Black started Raimel Tapia in the DH spot 10 times in 2020, which was second-most behind Kemp. Charlie Blackmon did so for nine games. Colorado can understandably mix around the position, as the ‘half-day-off’ strategy can be used for anybody. (Keep in mind Kemp only started about a third of Colorado’s games at DH.) Even if the Rockies pursue a full-scale rebuild, the DH will allow more position players to see more at-bats, instead of watching from the dugout while Antonio Senzatela goes to work with a .073 career average.
Given inherent travel restrictions, the National Hockey League is rumored to create a temporary divisional realignment for their upcoming season. The modification could bear similarity to the West/Central/East divides of the 2020 MLB pods. If travel limitations persist into April, MLB could follow suit for a second consecutive season. If so, the universal DH would make ample sense for the same reasons it did in 2020. Much can change between now and April too, so perhaps MLB is simply waiting this one out.
(But lest we forget: timely decision-making sometimes isn’t a strong suit of the Commissioner’s Office).
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Rox Pile sat down with Rockies farm director Zach Wilson; the Friday writeup discusses the Arizona-based fall instructs, ongoing discussion surrounding Nolan Arenado, and the likeliness of minor league baseball in 2021. Among minor league topics, Noah Yingling’s feature discusses how the future of the Lancaster JetHawks could depend on whether the Fresno Grizzlies accept a new affiliation.
Arenado trade articles can be overwhelming, but at least this one features several perspectives. CBS Sports’ Katherine Acquavella, R.J. Anderson, Dayn Perry, Mike Axisa and Matt Snyder share their thoughts on what they see happening; Axisa says the situation compares to Giancarlo Stanton in 2017 when the Marlins looked to pawn off a long and lucrative contract.
The Bay Area-based Mercury News identifies David Dahl as a “great, relatively cost-effective platoon option with some clear upside” for the Oakland Athletics. This could be a good resolution for Rockies fans: we could wish him well in the American League without having to face him too often.
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