Plenty of change occurred during the 2020 Major League Baseball season due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. Not only did MLB play just 60 regular season games, but both leagues - the American and the National - utilized a universal designated hitter (DH).
In both cases, the league will revert back to normal operations with a full slate of 162 games, and the NL reverting back to having pitchers who play in a NL ballpark bat.
And one powerful voice has a problem with that.
This is going to cost more time and more injuries to players than COVID will," said super-agent Scott Boras.
Despite pressure from the MLB Players Association to include the universal DH in the health and safety protocols, the MLB has elected to not include the provision in the new protocols. The league may see the universal DH as a potential bargaining chip for the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
Luckily for the Texas Rangers, only seven of their 162 regular-season games will be played at an NL park, which will require Rangers pitchers to step up into the batter's box.
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For as much debate that has been given to the universal DH position this offseason, Boras is incredibly unhappy about the current situation.
Boras has clients that are some of the biggest and most talented names in baseball. Players like Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole, and Rangers star Joey Gallo make up just a few of the players he represents. It goes without saying that Boras understands the value of a player and the investment that a team must make to acquire them.
“This is a health and safety issue,” argued Boras via the New York Times. “I want these owners to understand that you’re putting the game, and all the investment they have in pitchers, at major risk. Hamstrings, ankles, broken fingers—when you don’t run the bases and you haven’t bunted for over a year and a half, you’re asking elite athletes to do things they haven’t done.”
Meanwhile, the MLB is trying hard to increase the pace of play, increase their viewership, and are pursuing avenues to keep their players healthy and safe. Creating a universal DH, while counter to tradition and "old school" baseball, would effectively help achieve some, if not all, of these goals.
“If you’re doing all this stuff for COVID, and you’re doing all these things to protect the health and safety of the league, then this is a primary area. Because the reality of it is: This is going to cost more time and more injuries to players than COVID will," said Boras.