Cubs’ Willson Contreras likes universal DH addition
Whether you like it or not, baseball fans, universal DH is here.
The Major League Baseball lockout ended this week with the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement, an agreement that includes the implementation of a full-time National League DH.
Although it might take some getting used to, the addition of DH to the NL game was long overdue. Which immediately begs the question: how are the Cubs going to use it?
They have already shown us.
We got a taste of Universal DH in 2020, when MLB implemented it, along with other temporary rule changes, for the 60-game COVID season.
The Cubs managed to get Willson Contreras off the ground without removing his bat from the lineup. Victor Caratini landed a good chunk of the starts at receiver that season on the days Contreras was the DH.
Last season was a different story.
Not only was there no universal DH, but the Cubs had a revolving door at the backup receiver. Contreras took on a heavy workload, ranking seventh in baseball in overruns despite missing a month with a knee injury, and his offensive production plummeted.
“I think he’s an elite offensive player,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said of Contreras after last season. “But it’s hard to be an elite attacking player when you have no legs.”
The Cubs solved that problem before the lockout, landing Yan Gomes – the best free agent receiver available – on a two-year contract.
Gomes’ signing has raised speculation around a potential Contreras swap deal. Contreras is expected to be a free agent after this season and could be moved if he and the Cubs don’t reach an extension.
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But the addition of Gomes was also made with universal DH in mind. He’s a proven starter and can take some of the burden off Contreras behind the plate.
Keeping Contreras fresh should help him maintain his offensive production. And now there’s a way for the Cubs to manage their workload and keep their bats in the lineup on their days off.
Contreras said on Sunday he liked the universal addition of DH and explained how it would benefit him
“I think it’s really good to have the DH in both leagues,” Contreras said. “There’s going to be at least more playing time for a few guys, or even for me.
“If I’m going to play DH this year, it will help me a lot with my legs. Take my rest and my days off and feel healthy. That’s the main thing for me.”
Outside of Contreras, other Cubs DH candidates could include Clint Frazier, Ian Happ and Nick Madrigal, certainly the top two with the Cubs’ crowded outfield image.
Madrigal has just suffered a serious hamstring injury which required season-ending surgery. If the Cubs want to rest their legs, he can DH, while David Bote, Nico Hoerner — who could be an everyday player in multiple positions in 2022 — or someone else plays second base.
There’s certainly no shortage of DH options for the Cubs. But they already have a plan for how they can use the extra room in the lineup.
Arizona Contributor: Gordon Wittenmyer
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