With the news last week that Major League Baseball will be going to a universal designated hitter, American League teams like the Chicago White Sox could end up benefiting from the legislation. When reports surfaced, it marked the first time since 1973 (when the AL applied the DH rule) that both leagues will be playing under the same rules.
While teams in each league have guys on their rosters and in the Minors who could be classified as “all hit, no mitt”, players in the AL who fit that bill will now find that the job market for their services has expanded. Under this scenario, the White Sox and other teams on the “Junior Circuit” could fill holes on their rosters by moving players whose playing time on the field is limited at best.
Take White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez as an example. The team is not looking to move him right now but much was made about him being a liability in the field after getting injured during spring training last season.
His being a mediocre outfielder at best makes him a perfect candidate for being a DH since his bat is a tremendous asset to the White Sox lineup. He would probably bring back a nice return in a trade if the Sox looked to move him, especially to an NL team looking to find a guy who would add power to the middle of their lineup.
The Chicago White Sox could benefit from every team in the NL needing a DH now.
When Jimenez returned from his injury in July, the idea of him being a DH was brought up and he played the role of a good soldier when he said:
"“If he (manager Tony LaRussa) asks me, I’m here for my team. Even if I don’t like it, I’m here to be for my team. Whatever he wants me to play, I’m going to be here.”"
It is obvious Jimenez doesn’t only want to be a DH which is probably true for a number of players who might be viewed in that role such as Kyle Schwarber or Jorge Soler. However, it opens up opportunities for more teams to vie for their services with the chance to get onto the field every now and then.
Free agents on the market like Schwarber, Soler, Nick Castellanos, and Michael Conforto might be able to extend their careers and get longer deals from teams willing to add their bats to their lineups. Teams could put better everyday defensive players on the field yet have the benefit of having those power bats as part of their lineups.
The Sox are in a spot right now where they have some young talent who could be moved to fill in areas of need such as second base, right field, or a starting pitcher. Andrew Vaughn, Adam Engel, Gavin Sheets, and Jake Berger are a few guys who have some nice upside that could make NL teams interested in their services.
With the DH being in play, should guys like this hit like they are capable of, any defensive deficiencies could be tolerated. This is not to say the Sox are currently looking to move these players either.
However, NL teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks or Philadelphia Phillies might be willing to part with a Ketel Marte or Jean Segura for a young player that has offensive potential and comes with a reasonable contract (who could slide into the DH role).
NL teams might have guys that could DH in their pipelines already but they might opt to look at AL teams to find hitters who have filled that role before and could help their clubs now. The debate on whether the DH is a good thing will go on but the reality is it will be here and teams will have to adjust to it. How they approach doing that could be a more interesting topic of debate.