The MLBPA just declined a proposal to keep the DH in the National League in ’21.
A Major League Baseball memo says that the MLB Players’ Association rejected a deal for the universal designated hitter, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported.
The fact that it is Jan. 25 and that there is no clarity on whether the designated hitter will be implemented in the National League is, quite frankly, stunning. It has handcuffed teams and players, especially Marcell Ozuna and Nelson Cruz, who are among the top hitting free agents available. Their markets have been at a relative standstill and they will likely remain unsigned until the DH situation is settled.
From the Cardinals perspective, the impact comes in terms of roster building. The front office, led by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, does not know how to construct his roster headed into the 2021 season. Sure, there will be increased platoons. But adding a designated hitter would allow for a potential outside the box addition. It is unlikely that Ozuna would sign with St. Louis, given his price tag and his disappointing tenure with the team. But it has left the Cardinals – and every other team in baseball – handcuffed as spring training draws closer.
It is part of the reason why the Cardinals have been so inactive this winter, along with financial uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. But the team announced that they will have fans at spring training, perhaps offering a glimmer of hope to the front office and ownership that they can put money back into the team.
But the Cardinals likely will not do much until the designated hitter question is settled. After all, Yadier Molina is no longer built to be an everyday catcher and could see time as a DH to get him through the 162-game season. And until Molina is settled, and there is clarity on the DH, the Cardinals will continue to be in a position where they can’t spend significant funds on outside free agents.