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Thursday, November 05, 2020

Jeff Passan’s MLB offseason preview: Answering 20 uniquely 2020 hot stove questions

Is the DH even happening in the NL next year?

Still unclear. Players want it, sources said, but owners want the players to agree to expanded playoffs for the 2021 season in exchange. Understandably, the players don’t find that to be a particularly equitable trade. The complicating factor is that most front offices would love it. Going back to pitchers hitting after a full season in which they didn’t doesn’t register right, particularly when the issue is going to be adjudicated for good in a new collective-bargaining agreement after the 2021 season.

Some executives believe the universal DH will stick around, even if the MLBPA doesn’t agree to the expanded playoffs. What MLB would trade it for is unclear.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 05, 2020 at 09:06 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: offseason

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Rally Posted: November 05, 2020 at 10:01 AM (#5987352)
I wish Manfred would consider some more creative options for the DH. I'd rather not see one at all, but we're not going back to those days. But instead of one size fits all approaches, how about?

1. DH bats for starting pitcher only. Once the starting pitcher leaves, the DH is gone too. This has a good side affect in giving teams some incentive to keep a Blake Snell in the game a bit longer.

2. Every game, the DH is an option to be decided by the home team manager. Visitor has David Ortiz or Nelson Cruz? No DH today! My starting pitcher hits like Dean Chance and yours hits like Don Newcombe? Ok, let's use a DH.
   2. yo la tengo (the poor man's Ron Darling) Posted: November 05, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5987367)
I had always thought that the home team rules idea was backwards. In the AL park for interleave games, let the home team see an NL style game and vice versa
   3. DL from MN Posted: November 05, 2020 at 12:03 PM (#5987376)
I'm fine with expanding the playoffs. Make the wild card a 3 game series instead of a 1 game play-in and make the division series a best of 7. That adds more primetime playoff games for television without expanding the number of teams. The number of playoff teams shouldn't go up until the league expands to 32 teams.

I'm fine with dropping back to a 154 game season. We could even go as low as 147 (3 home and home series in division [72], 1 home and home vs league teams [60], 1 home or away interleague per division [15]).
   4. The Duke Posted: November 05, 2020 at 01:08 PM (#5987386)
Good column by Passan. Highlights all the complexities. My predictions

1. A season of no more than 100 games. Probably 80 starting sometime after Memorial Day with spring training pushed forward a similar amount. Allows them to avoid cold weather and buy time for vaccine/covid to die down in spring.

2. There will be fans but not many. Season ticket revenue basically screwed and fans basically are game day or limited to former season ticket holders at much reduced pricing

3. Salaries will crater this winter as expected and next winter as well as teams re-set the baseline

4. Some agreement to push the CBA out another year will be reached.

5. Minor leagues all but gone with new model built around a couple of ATS teams

6. Four umpires phased out. Do we really need 4? Attrit down to 3. That’s a 25% reduction in costs.

7. You might see a need for contraction if some teams just refuse to field a competitive team

8. Re-alignment to minimize travel even more

9. Why not play a month in Japan, South Korea or Australia ? Generate fans, build a brand, expand season.

10. Follow on to point 7 and point 8: rich get richer, poor get poorer. Poor teams will want to be pulled out of rich team divisions.
   5. Rally Posted: November 05, 2020 at 01:34 PM (#5987388)
10. Follow on to point 7 and point 8: rich get richer, poor get poorer. Poor teams will want to be pulled out of rich team divisions.

Not a serious proposal, but back before the Rays got good and the Red Sox and Yankees always finished 1-2 (9 out 10 times from 1998-2007, Red Sox missing by a single game in 2006) with payrolls that dwarfed their competitors. I thought a 2 team division would be best. Put the other teams in a different division. Networks just loved Red Sox-Yankees. If they were playing on a weekend, 100% chance they would be both Saturday game of the week and the Sunday night baseball game.

So have them play each other 162 times. That's over 648 hours of must see TV!. One of them finishes with about 85 wins, the other a losing record, and everyone else plays against opponents they can actually compete against.
   6. winnipegwhip Posted: November 05, 2020 at 02:05 PM (#5987391)
Networks just loved Red Sox-Yankees. If they were playing on a weekend, 100% chance they would be both Saturday game of the week and the Sunday night baseball game.

A challenge I always give myself over the last several years is to look at the schedule for the second half of the week. By looking at Friday's games determine what game is going to be the FOX Saturday game and the Sunday Night Game. I can usually get it down to two choices and correctly get it on the first choice.
   7. Karl from NY Posted: November 05, 2020 at 02:46 PM (#5987395)
Duke's #1: The owners won't want more than the absolute minimum to have a playoffs, same as this past year, and as the NBA and NHL are heading towards. Each marginal game costs more player salary than it earns.

#6: no way they get that through the umpires' union.

#9: Quarantine travel rules will make overseas games impossible until at least 2023 if ever again at all.

(Not to bash on the post, I like your ideas and speculation)
   8. DL from MN Posted: November 05, 2020 at 03:17 PM (#5987401)
For 2020 a 93-96 game schedule makes a lot of sense. 2 home & home (48) in division, 1 home OR away series v all league teams (30) and interleague (15). May need another 3 game series randomly to even out the travel. 2/3 of the games in division or against the opposite league same division to limit travel.
   9. DL from MN Posted: November 05, 2020 at 03:20 PM (#5987403)
Each marginal game costs more player salary than it earns.

Not sure if this is the case. If they can even have 20% capacity they can sell all the tickets at season ticket prices.
   10. JRVJ Posted: November 05, 2020 at 04:18 PM (#5987413)
4, I have no idea about your (1), but whatever else happens in 2021, one would hope that MLB and MLBPA agree to a season with enough padding to deal with possible COVID outbreaks.

If it's a 162 game season, then there should be a number of 7-inning double headers built into the schedule, so as to give teams some flexibility. Ditto if it's a shorter season that starts later than late March.

If it's a shorter season, and it starts at the same time as 2019 and so, then perhaps 7-inning double headers won't be necessary, but at a minimum, any make-up games due to COVID-19 should be subject to this special rule.

   11. Walt Davis Posted: November 05, 2020 at 04:38 PM (#5987416)
I don't know that FA can really proceed without some sort of MLB-MLBPA on pay for at least 2021. Maybe it can be as open as "pro-rata for the games played" ... but that wouldn't answer the question of how many games and who decides how many. Then the CBA is potantially done so you're not going to decide how it's gonna work 2022 and bayond -- maybe everything will be normal by then but now that they've seen it, they (both sides) will want to put some framework for future pandemics, etc. into place.

Now I don't think the level of uncertainty is as high as the above implies -- owners know that they aren't going to agree to pay full salaries for a partial 2021 season and that they'll end up with some pro-rata style agreement. So they know they can sign Bauer for 6/$165 and not worry that they'll have to pay full freight in 2021. But still it is genuinely increased uncertainty and of course the owners will repeat that excuse over and over in an attempt to "reset" the market. The big names will want to push more salary into signing bonuses unaffected by number of games played, owners won't want that. If salaries are taking a big hit, players will want more opt-outs -- which may not be a big deal from the teams' perspective but we'll have to see.

On the expanded playoffs thing -- the underlying issue is what share of playoff revenue do players get. It was one thing to help owners replace some lost regular-season revenue with expanded playoffs revenue even with most of that extra profit going to owners not players. And that might make sense for 2021 too. But for 2022 and beyond, the only reason players should agree to expanded playoffs is if it results in more revenue in their pockets.

Given the way the virus is going in the US, I do think #4 is on the right track for the number of games that will actually be played.
   12. RoyalFlush Posted: November 06, 2020 at 01:02 PM (#5987555)
9. Why not play a month in Japan, South Korea or Australia ? Generate fans, build a brand, expand season.

I don't think any of those countries is clamoring for a contingent of a few thousand Americans to vacation there for a month.
   13. Paul D(uda) Posted: November 07, 2020 at 04:28 PM (#5987710)
Jays sign Robbie Ray for one year, $8 million
   14. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: November 07, 2020 at 05:24 PM (#5987739)
Does having the DH increase revenue? By how much? And why? If ownership wants it, the answer to the first question must be "yes". But I don't know why it would be. It seems unlikely that people don't go to the park, or buy fewer hotdogs while they're there, or don't get cable, or whatever, just because they have to suffer through seeing pitchers hit. (But then again, ownership added a roster spot, which does nothing besides cost them money, so maybe they're not always making the most rational decisions.)


Next topic:

Bigger signing bonuses (or back loading contracts to avoid having monies come due during 2021) shouldn't make any difference. If the player is worth $x to the team, you should expect them to offer no more than $x, regardless of how it's split up. If a player is asking, say, for a huge signing bonus and a contract to pay him the minimum during 2021 (to minimize the amount lost to the shorter season), the team will of course just offer a signing bonus equal to (what his salary for 2021 would have been, times (however many games they expect to play/162)) - league minimum salary. If these guys are rational actors (but see above) there should be no way to dodge the players' reduction in income.

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