Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
While making calls to rival executives to solicit opinions about the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade, one particular comment stuck out, raising a thought that hadn’t occurred to me.
“Maybe the National League with have the DH by the time he finishes his deal,” said an American League GM (and credit where due, my colleague Nelson Figueroa independently floated the same idea in conversation this week).
Cano is still a capable second baseman, and expressed his desire to remain at that position. For a year or two, that shouldn’t be a problem.
But as he enters the last two or three seasons of the remaining five on his contract, odds are his range and overall athleticism will decline. He’s already 36 years old, after all.
The Mets have time to determine if Peter Alonso or Dom Smith is their long-term answer at first base. Maybe neither of those younger players will succeed, and the Mets will move Cano to first in a few years. But what if Alonso or Smith becomes an important part of the team’s core?
The universal DH could be a solution. Both commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA head Tony Clark have expressed an openness to bringing the DH to the National League. Some N.L. owners remain strongly opposed, according to major league sources. They are not close to a consensus.
In order for this significant change to occur, the union and league would have to reach an agreement. This could be done before the current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021 (after Cano’s third season with the Mets, by the way).
According to people with direct knowledge of this process, it’s simply too soon to say the MLB will adopt a universal DH in or before 2021. It is among many issues, from pace of play to changes in free agency, that are under discussion. The banning or limiting of defensive shifts and the pitch clock are likely to happen sooner, according to sources.
It’s probably too soon to say that there is momentum for a universal DH, but let’s put it this way — many folks in the game believe that the change will occur before Cano’s contract expires.
The Mets surely know this, and while they acquired Cano with every intention to keep him at second base until further notice, it’s possible they will have an appealing option for him as he nears 40.