Reports are that the designated hitter may be coming to the National League as soon as 2021. How would this impact the Chicago Cubs moving forward?
To the chagrin of many baseball purists, the idea of bringing the designated hitter to the National League is building momentum, and it’s possible that it could happen as soon as next year. Because of that, National League teams may need to start thinking about how they will build their rosters differently moving forward.
Of course, the Chicago Cubs are one of those teams. Regardless of what side of the designated hitter debate you are on, as Cubs fans, we should be grateful that the change isn’t happening this year. If the DH comes to the Senior Circuit, that’s an extra position that the team would have to worry about filling. And since the team apparently has no money to spend this offseason, filling that spot with a big name would be out of the question.
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Many Cubs fans wanted the team to re-sign Nicholas Castellanos, but he ended up going to the Cincinnati Reds. Had the Cubs needed to worry about a designated hitter for 2020, Castellanos would have been a perfect fit. He’s known for being a poor defender, yet his bat would have played well in the Cubs’ lineup.
As the team is currently constructed, Kyle Schwarber would be an obvious candidate to DH since he’s also not known as a good defender. Yet given the current lack of depth in the outfield, that might not be the best choice at this time. Unless Albert Almora Jr. and Steven Souza Jr. both have strong bounceback years and both are worth having in the lineup regularly, they’ll need Schwarber in left.
Currently, Victor Caratini might be the best option to DH. With Willson Contreras penciled in as the starting catcher, if Caratini hits like he did in 2019, his bat will be worth getting into the lineup elsewhere. David Bote would also be a strong candidate, though that would take away from the bench depth. And of course, the team could give their regulars breaks from playing in the field by occasionally having them DH too.
This would all be moot if the team is able to be active in free agency after the 2020 season and add someone to the roster. Looking at potential free agents of the near future, the Cubs could go after George Springer or Joc Pederson, for example, and play them in the outfield while moving Schwarber to DH. Or they could sign a player like Justin Turner or Nelson Cruz specifically to be the DH.
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Regardless of how all that plays out, the designated hitter at Wrigley Field would be a big change for fans of the home team. There would be more offense, as Cubs pitchers posted a .127/.167/.160 AVG/OBP/SLG line in 2019. Yet as we can see, it would also change how the front office approaches building a roster in the future. Let’s hope that if the DH comes to the National League, the Chicago Cubs will be ready for the change.