How the Phillies Are Using the Implementation of the NL DH to Their Advantage in Free Agency

MLB: MAY 23 Phillies at Tigers
May 23, 2016: Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos (9) lines a ball to the wall in right during the game on Monday evening, Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire)

Following a 99-day stalemate, the MLB and MLBPA reached a tentative agreement, allowing baseball activity to resume and the 2022 MLB and Phillies season to begin, albeit with a few new rule changes.

One of the most prominent league changes is the introduction of the designated hitter to the National League. Formerly exclusive to the American League, the DH has been around since 1973 and allows teams to substitute their pitcher in the lineup for a preferred batter.

For years, players, owners, and spectators alike have mulled the disparity between the two leagues and whether or not a universal DH could be the solution.

Now, after decades of debate, the NL has adopted the DH position. With the universal designated hitter now in place, expect NL teams to be aggressive in their pursuit of an extra bat to bolster their lineup. Amongst the teams aggressively pursuing talented bats are none other than the Philadelphia Phillies.

Ever since the lockout ended and baseball activities resumed, the Phillies have been linked to just about every premier hitter on the free-agent market. Although they missed out on former NL MVP Kris Bryant, whom Phillies superstar Bryce Harper implored the Phillies to acquire before he was signed by the Colorado Rockies, they were able to land the hard-hitting outfielder Kyle Schwarber on a multi-year pact.

Last season, Schwarber, 29, solidified himself as one of the most potent power threats in the league. The lefty slugger slashed .266/.374/.554 with 32 home runs across 471 plate appearances with the Nationals and Red Sox.

In Philly, expect Schwarber to take full advantage of the short right-field wall of Citizens Bank Park and provide the Phillies with some much-needed pop in the lineup.

After signing a four-year, $79M deal with the Phillies, Schwarber seems primed to carry the bulk of the team’s DH duties. At least for the time being, that is.

Still a few weeks shy of Opening Day, the Phillies regular-season roster is currently undergoing maintenance and could look a lot different when the team opens the season in April. Even after inking Schwarber to a lucrative contract, the Phillies are reportedly still scouring the market for big bats to put in the heart of their lineup.

If the Phillies can somehow manage to sign Nick Castellanos, it would be a huge get for the team. Castellanos is one of the most feared hitters in the league and is coming off his first All-Star campaign in which he hit a career-high 34 home runs. Castellanos would also provide the Phillies with some much-needed defensive versatility, as he can man both third base and the corner outfield. And, having just turned 30 years old a couple of weeks ago, Castellanos is still young enough to fit in the Phillies’ long-term plans.

If it weren’t for the designated hitter position, though, the Phillies realistically wouldn’t have room for both Schwarber and Castellanos. With the new rule changes, though, the Phillies could slot one at DH and stick the other in left field. Or they could choose to platoon them between the two positions to keep both players fresh.

Now that the NL has adopted the DH, the lineup and defensive configurations are much more plentiful for the Phillies and the team seems intent on taking full advantage.

Photo By: Steven King/Icon Sportswire