Red Sox

McAdam: The offseason is well underway, but status of DH rule for 2021 still undecided

(Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

It's nearly December, which means that, for now, spring training is just over two months away and Opening Day is a mere four months in the distance.

Thanks to the pandemic, there will be no Winter Meetings this season, at least not in the traditional sense. Executives will still meet with their colleagues from other teams and with agents, but it will all be done virtually.

Given that the industry is about to enter its most important month of the offseason, with trades and free-agent signings bound to take place, it sure would be nice if the people putting together the rosters knew what the rules were going to be for the upcoming season.

For now, they're merely making educated guesses. And that feels both unnecessary and unfair.

A year ago, Major League Baseball introduced the designated hitter into National League regular-season games for the first time. Adopted by the American League in 1973 to boost offense, the N.L. never followed suit. The only games involving N.L. teams which included the DH were 1) interleague games in A.L. ballparks and 2) World Series games in A.L. ballparks.

Last year, in recognition that players had been off for several months before re-assembling for a condensed second spring training, MLB instituted the DH for both leagues. MLB correctly came to the conclusion that the last thing it needed was pitchers coming up lame from pulled hamstring while futilely running the bases.

The DH came for a while and stayed. And somehow, neither the game nor the republic crumbled.

But the DH's appearance in the National League might be a one-year cameo. Or it could be here to stay. Or it could disappear in 2021 and make a more permanent appearance in 2022 and every season thereafter.