A version of this story was originally published on April 14
Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
With the league and owners scheduled to speak on Monday regarding the proposal for the shortened 2020 MLB season and that proposal expected to be taken to the players on Tuesday, we could soon get some clarity on how and when MLB will resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While there are still roadblocks and there could be some discord between the league and players between now and the resumption of spring training, the proposal to be discussed this week calls for the regular season to start around July 1.
The shortened season is expected to look very different, with it being roughly 80 games long, teams playing without fans in attendance, expanded playoffs, expanded rosters, and more wrinkles. One of those other wrinkles -- a rather large one -- is a universal DH, which multiple reports indicate will likely be implemented.
One of the teams that might benefit the most from the universal DH in 2020 is the Mets, with three specific players being near-perfect fits.
Here are three strategies the Mets could employ in the event they get to use the universal DH this season...
The Yoenis Cespedes Strategy
Cespedes was on a great trajectory before spring training was suspended, but he might have still been an unlikely member of the 26-man roster had the season started as scheduled on March 26.
Now, it's fair to believe that Cespedes will be ready to go if/when the 2020 season starts, with his inclusion on the roster seeming like a lock since the roster will be expanded. But it's also fair to believe that after having not played for most of the last two seasons, Cespedes will not be able to handle anything close to a regular workload in left field.
The above makes Cespedes the perfect candidate to DH. And if he's physically able, he's the Met who offers the most upside there and should get the most time there.
On days when Cespedes is the DH, the Mets' regular outfield will usually be J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto from left to right, with Jeff McNeil at third base.
The J.D. Davis Strategy
While Davis has given it his all when in left field, he's miscast there. And while he's said he's more comfortable at third base, that will be McNeil's spot most of the time. So having the ability to use Davis as a DH would be ideal.
On days when Cespedes isn't the DH, it would make sense for it to be Davis, with the Mets going for defense in center field with Jake Marisnick and sliding Nimmo to left field.
That would mean Cespedes being a dangerous bat off the bench those days.
The Robinson Cano Strategy
Cano is under contract for four more seasons and is currently locked in as the team's starting second baseman.
While the ability to use the DH in 2020 might not alter the plan for Cano in a big way, it would at least give the Mets a lot more flexibility than they currently have.
For example, if Davis -- who had been taking half of his reps at third base as he prepared for the season -- is able to handle third base adequately moving forward, the Mets would have the option of playing Davis at third, McNeil at second base, using Cano as the DH, and going for defense in center with Marisnick.
The above would likely only come into play on a regular basis if Cespedes is unavailable or ineffective. But with Cespedes having been on the shelf for so long, that's not a hard scenario to imagine.
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While the universal DH in 2020 would add an interesting element, it's not out of the question that it will become permanent sooner rather than later.
And the Mets, who stand to gain a lot in 2020 if they're able to use the DH, would be in a similar position in 2021 and beyond with Cano and Davis still on the roster and under team control for the long haul.
If the 2020 season happens with a universal DH, we might get a glimpse of what that future could look like.