How the Universal DH Could Benefit the Twins
The first benefit that the universal DH will have for the Twins will affect them directly in the 2020 season. As part of the shortened 60-game schedule, the Twins will play 20 interleague games against NL Central opponents, with 10 of those games coming on the road. In past years, the Twins would not have had the benefit of a DH in road interleague games, but now the Twins will be able to use a DH in those games.
This will allow the Twins to keep Nelson Cruz in their lineup, as opposed to having to leave their best hitter on the bench for 17 percent of their schedule. While it would be possible to simply play Cruz in the field during those games, the Twins already showed last year they were not willing to do that, as he didn’t start in any of their 10-road interleague games last season, and instead was reduced to a late inning pinch hitter role.
In addition to getting to have Nelson Cruz in the lineup for their road interleague games, there is another benefit that a universal DH could have for the Twins that comes via the trade market, especially if the universal DH stays in effect beyond the 2020 season.
The Twins organization is loaded with hitters like Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach and the newly acquired Aaron Sabato, who don’t bring a lot in the way of their defensive abelites, but have big and powerful bats at the plate. This would bring a lot of interested National League teams calling, who would suddenly need to change the structure of their lineup, if the universal DH were to stick.
While some National League teams like the Chicago Cubs or the Los Angeles Dodgers would be well equipped with their current roster for a transition to the DH, that is not the case for most National League teams, who will, as a result, create a whole new market of teams looking to increase the power potential in their lineups, and will create a much higher demand for these players.
For anyone that knows anything about economics, demand for a product is only one side of the equation. The other import factor that determines the price is the supply of product, in this scenario the product being potential designated hitters.
Both the Yankees and Astros are intriguing teams for potential supply, as they are loaded with powerful bats up and down their lineups. The Yankees especially, who have an abundance of quality bats on the corners already at the MLB level, could look to shop players like Giovanny Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Luke Voit or Miguel Andújar to calling National League teams. However, both the Yankees and the Astros lack top end power talent in their minor league systems, which could give them pause at trading away too much depth.
A couple other American League teams to watch on the DH trade market are the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox, who both have some intriguing young and powerful bats in their respective organizations. While the Seattle Mariners have some excellent options in their minor league system, like Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez and Evan White, they don’t have a lot at the MLB level outside of Daniel Vogelbach for potential trade options, especially after they non-tendered Domingo Santana and traded away Omar Narváez to the Milwaukee Brewers at the beginning of the offseason, which will likely take the Mariners out of the market. For the White Sox, they could be a candidate for a trade, but there do not seem to be any log jams in their system, as they seem more focused on using those young bats as their core for the future.
This leaves the Twins as really the only team in the American League with both an abundance of big bats at both the MLB and minor league level. This means that if they wish to trade away one or two of these bats to help the roster elsewhere, they have more flexibility than any other team to do so. It also means that they can set the market price for National League teams looking to acquire a big and powerful bat to insert into the middle of their lineups.
Unfortunately, this all relies on the big if of the MLB adopting the universal DH full-time beyond 2020, but if they do, look for the Twins to be at the center of the action in a game that will change overnight.
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