The New York Mets desperately needed the universal designated hitter for the 2021 season but will not get their wish. Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on health and safety protocols for 2021, including 7-inning doubleheaders and a runner starting on second during extra innings.
Hearing that MLB and the MLBPA could have the health and safety protocols finalized as early as tonight and expect it to include seven-inning double headers and the runner on second in extra innings, DH not expected to be included.
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) February 8, 2021
MLB did not want the universal DH and felt it was not important towards COVID-19 safety like the other rule changes. For the Union to get the DH, they have to agree on an expanded postseason.Â Ironically, playing extra innings is a health risk but asking players to add more games to the postseason is perfectly fine. This ongoing chess match between Rob Manfred and Tony Clark is a competition between two people in well over their heads.
Will The Rules Stay?
Anyone against the extra-inning or doubleheader changes can hope they do not remain past 2021. It will not be easy to agree upon a new collective bargaining agreement before 2022. The future Zoom meeting will feature arguments on these topics, along with much more. There is good reason to assume the two controversial rules are just for the pandemic. The universal DH is a higher priority to the Union than playing fewer doubleheader innings or shortening extra-inning games.
The Mets suffer the most without the universal DH as they are stuck with Brandon Nimmo’s defense in center field. Unless Nimmo is traded before spring training, Jackie Bradley Jr. is off their radar. In a perfect world, Bradley plays center, Nimmo in left, Dominic Smith plays first, and Pete Alonso becomes the DH.
Signing Albert Almora Jr. meant the Mets saw this as the likely outcome. Bradley would be an expensive fourth outfielder with a multi-year deal. Almora gives the Mets flexibility, a bat for left-handed pitching, and a defensive replacement.
Since each position is at least two players deep, the Mets seem finished with adding position players through free agency. They may add a free agent pitcher (Jake Arrieta/Rich Hill), but their next position player move is likely through trade.