While nothing is official as of now – there will be several rounds of negotiations before the new collective bargaining agreement is ready and approved – there is a solid chance MLB implements the universal designated hitter rule starting in 2022.
If that’s indeed the case, there will be a brand new market for a handful of players who will find more potential available positions in the National League.
These three stars could benefit from the universal DH rule, if approved.
3. Nelson Cruz
Because of his defensive deficiencies, Nelson Cruz has had to play his entire career with American League teams, except for eight games in 2005 with the Milwaukee Brewers, when he was a rookie.
He played one game at first base in 2021 with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Before that, the last time he played the field was in 2018, when he was an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners in four games.
Bottom line: he is not a fielder.
Cruz will be an upgrade at the designated hitter position for the next team that signs him.
His market has been limited to the junior circuit for years.
However, if there is a universal DH rule, more NL squads can accommodate him in their lineups.
Many NL teams are in on Nelson Cruz. The perception seems to be that the universal DH is happening (once they get a CBA done, whenever that is).
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2021
Despite his advanced age (41), Cruz hit .265/.334/.497 with 32 home runs and 86 RBI between the Minnesota Twins and the Rays.
2. Kyle Schwarber
There is no question that Kyle Schwarber is a gifted offensive player.
He hit .266/.374/.554 with 32 home runs between the Washington Nationals and the Boston Red Sox.
He had a rough 2020, which resulted in the Chicago Cubs’ decision to non-tender him.
But he had a resurgence for the ages this year.
It was very nice to see, but the fact remains he is not good at playing defense.
He has been an outfielder for his whole career, but the Red Sox tried him at first base this year.
He was passable, but still bad.
If the universal DH is enforced next season, more teams could bid for him, and his price could go up.
1. Nick Castellanos
It’s not that Nick Castellanos is bad at playing defense.
It’s that he is so bad that he has moved all around the diamond, trying to find a long-term position for him, and he has failed at each and every one of them.
Over the course of his MLB career, Castellanos has -45 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at third base and -48 in the outfield.
However, he is a true difference-maker with the bat, and there is no denying he can carry a team’s offense.
The math adds up: he could be the perfect designated hitter for a contender.
If NL teams were able to field a DH regularly, Castellanos would have a spot in the lineup every day without damaging his team’s defense so much.
It could be an ideal scenario for him, because more teams would be interested in his services if the search is broadened to “All MLB” instead of “American League”.
I need Castellanos in DC man. If Universal DH is implemented, he’s the perfect guy for it
— 🇵🇭Braven🇺🇸 KINGS OF CONCACAF (@Braven_Kerbs) November 29, 2021
Castellanos hit .309/.362/.576 with 34 home runs and 100 RBI in 2021, and is the rare player who can hit for both average and power.