According to Lavelle E. Neal of the Star Tribune, it looks like the National League will not use the DH in 2021. Neal reported earlier this week that the DH will probably be used soley in the American League next season. To change that. the union and MLB would have to agree through bargaining.
As of now, the DH will be AL-only next season, I'm hearing. The union and MLB would have to expand it to both leagues through bargaining.
— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) October 22, 2020
Now, I wouldn’t totally count out the two sides coming to an agreement this offseason. Regardless, the two sides will probably agree on implementing it for the 2022 season and beyond with a new CBA. Among all the talking points between the two sides, this seems to be something nearly everybody agrees on. Eventually, the DH will be in both leagues; it’s just a matter of when.
This obviously is important when discussing the future of Marcell Ozuna in Atlanta. He proved to be one of the best offensive talents in the National League over the shortened 60-game season. Ozuna kept it right on raking in the playoffs. However, his glove was among the worst for outfielders. It’s obvious that he is best used as a DH going forward.
Still, I’m not sure this should deter the Braves from pursuing Ozuna this offseason. He will never be the Gold Glove-caliber center fielder that he was four years ago with the Marlins, but I do think he could improve substantially in that area, and at the very least, be viewed as league average. His bat also more than makes up for his sub-par defense, and what he brings to the clubhouse should not be overlooked either. He was a perfect fit in Atlanta, constantly bringing positive energy, and it rubbed off on everyone.
On top of that, as I said above, it’s only a matter of time before the DH is adopted universally. Baseball purists may be screaming at the clouds, but it’s happening, and it will almost certainly become official before the 2022 season, if not before. The league is more fun when all nine guys have the ability to hit the ball out of the park, and it also provides more opportunities for the players. Nobody needs to see guys like Mike Foltynewicz swing the bat ever again.
So no, the DH potentially being removed from the NL in 2021 shouldn’t deter the Braves from bringing Ozuna back. All National League GMs should be operating under the assumption that there will be a universal DH sooner rather than later. And even if Ozuna has to play in the outfield next season, it’s something he and the Braves can work on profusely over the winter and in spring training. The only thing that should deter Atlanta from bringing back The Big Bear is money.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire