The new general manager, manager and coaching staff for the Giants never have overseen a team that has Madison Bumgarner swinging for the fences every five days, but it sounds like they once again could see pitchers in the batter's box.
On the Giants' YouTube show Thursday night, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said there still isn't final word about whether the universal designated hitter will remain, but indicated that the league is leaning against it. MLB and the MLBPA have not come to any decisions, but team officials have been briefed behind the scenes in recent weeks.
"We've been told to plan as if we're not going to have it," Zaidi said of the designated hitter. "Again, it was really something that was just put in place for 2020 given the unusual nature of the season. We weren't planning for a DH in 2020 and we actually wound up getting pretty good production out of the position, so I think the plan would be the same.
"Hopefully we're ready with it but we're planning and I think we're assuming it's not going to be in place. At least for one more year, we may be back to old-style NL baseball."
The universal DH was put in place because neither side wanted pitchers hitting and risking injury after the long layoff. This should now be a more normal ramp-up to opening day, but it's a future offseason that is really the key factor here. The CBA expires after the 2021 season and the universal DH is considered a bargaining chip during the next round of contentious talks. Players like it because it provides 15 additional high-paying jobs for veteran position players. Aware of that, MLB has held off on instituting a DH in hopes that something of value comes back the other way during talks.
People within the industry expect further answers this month. If the DH somehow is brought back, it could be huge for the Giants, who are rumored to have interest in Marcell Ozuna and also tendered a contract to Darin Ruf, both of whom are best-suited to play DH. Having a DH also could allow Wilmer Flores to play more often after a big first season in San Francisco.
General manager Scott Harris joked on the show that the DH certainly makes it a bit easier to build a roster, but there's one key Giant who will be fine with going back to the way it was.
"I love not having the DH. I think it's a fun part of National League baseball," manager Gabe Kapler said. "That said, (the DH) does make the game a little bit easier to manage. You're considering fewer things as you're making your decisions."