The National League after just one season of the universal designated hitter may see it gone. As Andy reported yesterday, MLB told NL teams to expect that there will be no universal DH next season.
Of course, this changes how teams approach free agency and where some free agents ultimately decide to sign. The Dodgers benefited in October having Will Smith, Joc Pederson, and Justin Turner among others split time at DH. No universal DH would have also changed some situations in the World Series in a National League ballpark setting.
First, it is one less bat in a stacked Dodgers lineup, and it can change how the Dodgers negotiate with pending free agents Kike Hernandez, Turner, and Pederson. As we all know, the Dodgers have great team depth, as manager Dave Roberts will have to be selective with who gets at-bats.
Overall, it does give a slight edge to American League teams in free agency due to that extra spot.
There is slight hope the universal DH stays, as owners and the players union are scheduled to meet this week and discuss the situation. The universal DH was implemented during the shortened season due to fear out of pitchers sustaining injuries. From the beginning, it was understood the rule was only one season long.
The DH spot also helps teams when rehabbing players back from injury easing them back into options by just hitting instead of a full slate of fielding and batting.
Ultimately, the Dodgers are better positioned than other teams offensively, but the DH is still a nice asset that helped the Dodgers reach the pinnacle of the majors.
Don’t get me wrong—I personally love the “pitchers who rake movement,” but the universal DH spot does for more baseball overall, and in reality, better positions teams.
Without a DH spot, it is hard to see the Dodgers bringing back Pederson; he already platooned in the outfield and may look somewhere else for a full-time starting spot. However, Turner could be likely to come back due to him being the everyday third baseman. During the regular season, the Dodgers played Turner in the DH spot a total of eleven times.
Overall, the Dodgers should still be one of the better offenses in baseball—with or without a DH. The spot just allows players to give players a day off or having an extra bat in an already stacked lineup. However, the Dodgers may want to see a definitive answer from the league soon, as it can affect their free agency plans heading into the winter.