The universal designated hitter appears set to come to Major League Baseball this season and a number of National League teams have to be thrilled at that prospect. Here's a look at the five NL teams that will benefit the most from the universal DH.
Two words: Kyle Schwarber.
When the Cubs selected Schwarber with the fourth pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, he was a catcher. But anyone who had watched him play at Indiana (Go Hoosiers!) knew he wasn't going to make it behind the plate in the big leagues. So Chicago tried to make him an outfielder, banking on his fairly decent athleticism relative to his size. That experiment has been a mess and has clearly impacted his ability at the plate.
Schwarber's best position has always been DH. The 27-year-old has the ability to be an offensive force despite no discernible position defensively. In 2019 he hit .250 with 38 home runs and 92 RBIs in 155 games. Those numbers should improve if he can just focus on hitting.
The DH rule would also help the Cubs give days off in the field to guys like Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras.
San Diego Padres
The Padres entered the spring with a jumbled outfield picture. Tommy Pham was set in left field, while Trent Grisham looked to be the team's starting center fielder. That left the third outfield spot a jumbled mess with Wil Myers, Josh Naylor, and Franchy Cordero battling for it.
The DH rule will help San Diego tremendously as the poor-fielding Naylor could take the spot. That would leave Myers and Cordero to platoon or earn that final spot. Cordero could also spell Grisham in center. Naylor is a 22-year-old lefty who has hit at every level with good on-base numbers. He posted an OPS of .936 at Triple-A last season when he wasn't in the big leagues. If the Padres think Naylor's defense has improved -- he lost weight this offseason -- Myers could always take the DH spot.
The DH would also allow the Padres to give fielding days off to catcher Francisco Mejia. Mejia isn't great behind the plate, but San Diego wants to find a way to get his bat in the lineup as much as possible. The switch-hitter is a breakout candidate in 2020.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are so deep you could name any number of guys who could DH for them. The leading candidate is probably Joc Pederson, whose fielding ability has declined precipitously over the past few seasons but his improved power numbers warrant a lineup spot. The Dodgers could insert A.J. Pollock into the outfield defensively.
This could also go a number of ways. With guys like Austin Barnes and Matt Beaty on the bench, the Dodgers could even rotate guys at the spot to get them more at-bats. It would also allow them to give them the flexibility to give Justin Turner some days off in the field to keep him fresh for the postseason.
The Phillies are built to win now and they'll need to keep everyone healthy if they want to make a strong run at a ring. You'd have to assume Jay Bruce would be the default DH with Neil Walker in there some as well. That said, the rule change would allow them to rotate Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto out of the field and still keep them in the lineup.
Realmuto played in 145 games last season and that's a lot for a catcher. His bat is vitally important to the team but so is keeping the reigning Gold Glover's defense fresh. Meanwhile, Harper isn't as good in the field as he used to be -- though he was better in 2019. Giving him some days to just focus on hitting might be a net positive.
Andrew McCutchen could also see some time at DH as he eases back from the ACL tear he suffered in 2019.
Ryan Braun and Justin Smoak were expected to platoon at first base in Milwaukee this season. With the universal DH, that problem is solved. Braun could see some time in right field, but he's not a great fielder and slotting him at DH would open up an opportunity for Avisail Garcia to get full-time at-bats.
The Brewers also have Brock Holt and Jedd Gyorko on the roster and both guys could fit into a DH rotation. Christian Yelich could also get some days off from the field at the DH spot.
In the end, the easiest solution would be rotating Braun and Smoak at first base with the other taking the DH spot.