Rumor: Teams told to assume no universal DH in 2021. How does that affect the Seattle Mariners offseason?
Via MLB Trade Rumors, the MLB sent a memo to clubs telling them to operate assuming there will not be a universal designated hitter in 2021. It is not a done deal according to MLB Trade Rumors, but the MLB and MLPBA will begin to going into further discussions about the structure of next season soon. So how does this affect the Seattle Mariners offseason?
Well to start off, this news would be much bigger for the Mariners if Seattle were in the National League. But obviously, we are in the American League so the only big change this news presents is the decrease in demand for players who are noted as DHs.
I would expect many NL teams to shy away from players who cannot play defense until further news comes out. This also allows for AL teams to jump forward first and make their offers because any changes to the DH rule do not directly affect them.
Sodo Mojo has talked about several players who the Seattle Mariners could target this winter, and now might be the time to send their agents an offer while nearly half the league is off the market for DH or DH-like players.
We have talked about bringing back players like Nelson Cruz, and Edwin Encarnacion, who are heavily influenced by a DH rule change. Although they both played for AL teams last season, a reduction of the universal DH only gives them half the league to provide their services to. In some ways, this can also help reduce their cost. Hypothetically speaking, a reduction in demand (fewer teams) will lower the cost.
This also makes things interesting for players like Michael Brantley who is a below-average outfielder and will be viewed as more of a DH this offseason. Now it does not make sense for a team like the Braves or Mets to pursue Brantley, because he can be a liability on defense.
The same goes for Marcell Ozuna who was an important DH for the Braves in the postseason. Now, bringing back Ozuna to Atlanta does not make sense unless the universal DH is officially brought back. Ozuna would be a perfect fit for Seattle who is in need of a big bat.
The news could also impact Eddie Rosario, someone we have talked about recently. Rosario was placed on waivers and cleared which was really interesting. He is now a free-agent and someone that the Mariners could use. Rosario is a left-handed bat, with pop, and could slot right into the DH. Rosario’s defense is unimpressive so news like this is perfect for Rosario and the Mariners.
Last but not least, this news could also impact Kyle Schwarber who also became a free agent after the Cubs decided not to tender him. He has played in the NL for quite some time, but he is turning more and more into a DH. I mentioned Schwarber in 5 Chicago Cubs players that the Mariners should trade for and now might be a time to move on him as well.
But at the same time, free agency is moving quite slow because of how the pandemic affected revenue so teams might not move on DH’s until further news comes out. The teams are currently in the midst of online MLB Winter Meetings so it will be interesting if any pot stirring will happen from the Seattle Mariners’ side of things.