MLB players expected to approve universal DH for 2020 season, report says

Major League Baseball and the Players Association continue to discuss ways that would permit them to play a modified 2020 season around the spread of the novel coronavirus. While the two sides still have to figure out the player safety and compensation aspects -- the most important parts of a prospective plan, by any analysis -- it does appear that one smaller item will soon be checked off the proverbial to-do list: the installation of a universal designated hitter across both leagues.

The Players Association is expected to approve the league's proposed DH plan, which would see all teams adopt a designated hitter for the 2020 season, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

Although traditionalists might object, the universal DH is a reasonable arrangement for what has proven to be an unreasonable time. Pitchers will be asked to prepare for a season unlike any they've seen before, with a schedule that could require pitching deeper into the year. Swinging bats and running the bases are a small part of their jobs, but removing those tasks from the equation could spare their bodies some unnecessary wear and tear.

Our own Mike Axisa took a look at how NL teams could use the extra lineup spot earlier this week.

The DH will serve other purposes, too, like allowing tired players to get a rest without missing at-bats. That could come in handy if the schedule entails playing six or seven games per week, including scheduled doubleheaders. If the two sides agree on expanded rosters, the DH will also serve as a way to keep certain players fresh who might otherwise rust at the end of the bench.

Don't be surprised if this turns into a long-term development, either. The universal DH has been talked about for years, and the modified season could be the cover MLB has been looking for to send up a trial balloon. Should things go well, this could become the new normal. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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