The National League will not have the designated hitter in 2021 as LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported. This does and doesn’t come as a surprise. The National League adopted the designated hitter for 2020 for several reasons, but it was only a 1-year agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. So, from that standpoint, we figured that this would be coming.
But the designated hitter role in the National League did seem to be more favorable than expected – though there’s still some push back on it from certain corners (both in the game and out). As for the headline and the word maybe, it’s there for a reason.
If there’s going to be a designated hitter moving forward then it is something that must be collectively bargained between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. And if that’s going to be something that either side wants for the 2021 season then it’s likely something they will look to address very soon. With free agency beginning in two weeks both teams and players alike will want to know whether there’s a designated hitter for half of the teams in the league, or for all of the teams in the league.
Players and their agents are going to want to know who they need to talk to and use their time negotiating with. Teams are going to want to know how they need to go about building their roster. If there’s going to be a designated hitter then you are very likely to build your bench a little bit different than if there isn’t one and you are going to need to use the bench more often to hit than if the bench will be used less frequently at the plate and more as defenders and pinch runners.
For Cincinnati it will make their outfield even more interesting, especially if Nick Castellanos chooses to remain with the Reds for the 2021 season (which is expected). Having Nick Senzel, Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, and Shogo Akiyama means that someone would be sitting every day without a designated hitter option. There’s nothing wrong with having too many options to go with, but it’s also better when you have somewhere to play many of your good options.