The Giants and the National League are building rosters without knowing whether there will be a designated hitter, but they have been told which way to lean.
“We’ve been told to plan as if we’re not going to have it,” Farhan Zaidi said this week on the Giants’ YouTube show.
It’s helpful, if not official. If a change occurs, the Giants will be where they were last year: scrambling, having built a roster without fully knowing the structure of a lineup.
The NL adopted the DH as part of the revamped COVID-19 rules, not wanting another avenue for possible pitcher injuries in a season that was requiring a quick build-up. The Giants got good use of it, an extra spot for bats like Wilmer Flores’ or Darin Ruf’s as well as a way to keep a player like Brandon Belt in the lineup while resting his legs.
They brought back Ruf, a tricky tendering decision, who would fit much better if the DH is brought back, too. (Though, as Zaidi alluded, he does play left field and could play first.) A report linked them to Marcell Ozuna, but their interest would hinge on whether a DH spot exists for the slugger next season.
“At least for one more year we may be back to old-style NL baseball,” Zaidi said.
Next season is the last under the current CBA, and there’s a good chance the DH is fully adopted by 2022. Major League Baseball would enjoy the added runs that would come without pitchers batting, the Players Association would enjoy the extra 15 lineup slots for DHs.
Baseball purists would mourn missing out on seeing players like Madison Bumgarner take cuts.
“I love not having the DH. I think it’s a fun part of National League baseball,” manager Gabe Kapler said on “Chalk Talk @ Home.” “That said, [having the DH] does make the game a little bit easier to manage. You’re considering fewer things as you’re making your decisions.”