The universal DH wouldn’t help the Phillies as much as you think

MLB: AUG 16 Mets at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 16: Philadelphia Phillies Third Baseman Alec Bohm (28) attempts to throw out New York Mets Catcher Wilson Ramos (40) (not pictured) during the second inning of the Major League Baseball game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies on August 16, 2020, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

The Phillies have plenty of candidates to play DH, but they don’t have any options to replace those players on the field.

MLB informed teams recently that they should “operate under the assumption that there will not be a universal DH in 2021.” Immediately, many Phillies writers began to claim this would hurt the team next season.

Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia is one such writer. He argues that that the universal DH would allow the Phillies to get their worst defensive players off the field while still keeping their bats in the lineup. He names Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, and Andrew McCutchen as three possible DHs.

On the surface, this argument makes plenty of sense. Hoskins, Bohm, and McCutchen were all negatively-valued defensive players in 2020 according to Fangraphs. All of them might be better-suited to play designated hitter. The problem, though, is that the Phillies don’t have enough options to replace them on the field.

According to the Phillies depth chart on, the only back-up for Rhys Hoskins is Alec Bohm. The only back-up for Alec Bohm is Jean Segura (who, you’ll remember, is already the starting shortstop). Roman Quinn or Adam Haseley could replace McCutchen, but neither is a great option. Is it worth getting McCutchen off the field if it means Roman Quinn is getting regular at-bats?

Therefore, if any of these three were the designated hitter, the Phillies would need to sign an on-field replacement. This team already claims to be in a “financial crunch,” so it’s hard to believe they’d spend the money required to add someone good. So far, the Phillies need to sign a catcher, a starting pitcher, and multiple bullpen arms. They could also use an upgrade in center, and perhaps at shortstop too. Fans should be thankful that the front office doesn’t need to add any more to that list.

Don’t get me wrong, I want the Phillies to improve their defense as much as anyone. But making Hoskins, Bohm, or McCutchen the designated hitter just isn’t the solution.

Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire