For there to be a 2020 Major League Baseball season, there are still many hurdles to clear – mainly, ensuring players' safety. But if local and state governments approve of games being played, and the owners and players can come to an agreement on safety – as well as money – some form of a baseball season seems likely. 

Monday's plan conceived by team owners would have clubs starting out playing in their home cities without fans, nearly all their games being played against division opponents and instituting the designated hitter all season by both leagues. 

The DH was adopted by the American League in 1973 and has been used ever since. The National League has stayed true to its roots, still allowing the pitcher to bat for himself except for in interleague and World Series games in AL parks. 

Those in favour of the DH contend the position adds additional offense and excitement by eliminating the pitcher batting. Some baseball purists, meanwhile, argue the DH takes away some of the strategy involved in the game. 

The DH is a unique position in baseball. Some established hitters struggle to adapt to the job, which involves a lot of sitting around over the course of a three-hour-long game broken up by their four or five at-bats. Others, though, excel with the specialised role. 

A number of NL hitters have had some experience DHing through interleague play, and here is a look at some that could benefit from filling that role more regularly. 

 

Yoenis Cespedes, LF, New York Mets 

Cespedes was already looking at starting the season on the injured list and possibly platooning some in the outfield after missing all of 2019 following surgery on both heels. 

With the 2020 season now starting in July, at the earliest, Cespedes will likely be penciled in as the Mets' everyday DH – and with good reason. Since being acquired by New York in 2015, he has slashed .379/.419/.759 for a 1.178 OPS while serving as the Mets DH, homering three times in 29 at-bats. 

Questions were already being raised about his ability to play defense, but those questions are no longer relevant if the Mets can just keep his bat in the lineup as a DH.  

Kyle Schwarber, LF, Chicago Cubs 

Schwarber has long been seen as a player whose game is best suited for the AL – a slugger with the bat and somewhat of a defensive liability in the field.

Not only does he look the part, his batting line as a DH backs it up. In 117 plate appearances as a DH – including the 2016 World Series – Schwarber has a .320/.393/.650 slash line for a 1.044 OPS with nine home runs. In 415 career games in the outfield, he is slashing .232/.338/.481 for an .819 OPS. He is homering once every 11.44 at-bats as a DH, compared to once every 15.11 at-bats as an outfielder. 

The Cubs also have a crowded outfield with Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr. in the mix, and shifting Schwarber to DH would be a natural fit. A Cubs scout once compared Schwarber to Babe Ruth, and the evaluation is a bit more apt when looking at Schwarber's numbers as a DH. 

Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants 

Posey has put together a Hall of Fame resume in his 11-year major league career, winning three World Series championships, an MVP award, a batting title and earning six trips to the All-Star Game. A majority of those accomplishments came in the first half of his career, however, as the tolls of catching have caught up with the 33-year-old.

The DH has helped a number of superstars extend their career, and Posey could fill that role admirably. Since 2015, Posey has 87 plate appearances as a DH, producing a .329/.402/.487 slash line for an .889 OPS. Over that same stretch in games when he is squatting behind the plate, he has slashed .293/.365/.420 for a .785 OPS. 

Having Posey DH regularly seems like a no-brainer – he’s more dangerous as a hitter in that role and he’ll avoid the wear and tear that comes with catching. 

Jim Frey, who led the 1980 Kansas City Royals to the World Series in his first year as a Major League Baseball manager, died on Sunday at the age of 88. 

Former American League Cy Young Award winner Sparky Lyle, who was managed by Frey in the Baltimore Orioles organisation, issued a statement on Tuesday saying: "Jim was a great baseball mind and the person who gave me my first chance in the game. 

"He saw the opportunity for me to be a relief pitcher back then and set me on that path. We remained good friends all this time. It's very sad to hear of his passing." 

Frey was a scout and manager in the Orioles' minor league system before joining Baltimore's major league staff in 1970 and then being hired as manager of the Royals following the 1979 season. 

The Royals went 97-65 under Frey in 1980 and reached the World Series for the first time in franchise history before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. 

Kansas City fired Frey late in the 1981 strike-shortened season, and he joined the New York Mets organisation before being named manager of the Chicago Cubs. 

In his first season with the Cubs in 1984, Chicago went 96-65 to win the National League East Division title and reach the playoffs for the first time since 1945. 

Chicago fired Frey during the 1986 season and he never managed again in the majors, finishing his career with a 323-287 record. 

Frey became a radio broadcaster for the Cubs in 1987 before being hired as the team's general manager and building the team that won the NL East title in 1989.  

Frey was Chicago's GM through the 1991 season. 

Glenn Beckert, one of the best second baseman in the history of the Chicago Cubs, has died at the age of 79. 

Former teammate and Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins posted a message on his Twitter account on Sunday saying: "We lost a great one today, Glenn Beckert. Glenn was my friend, my Cubs teammate, and the best man at my wedding. 

"He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Beckert family."

The Cubs later tweeted: “The Chicago Cubs are saddened to learn of the death of former infielder Glenn Beckert."

Beckert began his Major League Baseball career with Chicago in 1965 and played for the Cubs through the 1973 season. He was a four-time All-Star during that stretch and also won one Gold Glove Award. 

Beckert hit .342 in 1971 to finish third in the National League. 

Among second baseman, Beckert ranks in the top five in Cubs history in games played (1,247), hits (1,423), doubles (194), triples (31), runs scored (672) and walks (248). 

Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that the London Series scheduled for June 13-14 between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals has been cancelled
due to the coronavirus pandemic.

MLB played its first regular season games in Europe last season when the New York Yankees swept the Boston Red Sox in a two-game series from June 29-30 at London Stadium, the home of Premier League club West Ham United.

"We made the decision because it was unlikely the events would go forward, and timely cancellation allowed us to preserve important financial resources," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a memorandum sent to MLB employees.

The league had already cancelled two other series scheduled to be played outside of the United States.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres were set to play the first MLB regular season games in Mexico City from April 18-19, while the New York Mets and Miami
Marlins had a three-game series in Puerto Rico scheduled for April 28-30.

MLB opening day was due to be on March 26, but the league has said the earliest play could begin was mid-May.

The Cubs have hired David Ross as their next manager, hoping his close ties to the team from his playing days will help bring another title to Chicago. 

Ross' appointment was announced on Thursday, a day after news of the hire initially broke. He has agreed to a three-year contract with an option for a fourth.

The 42-year-old is only a few years removed from his playing days, having retired after helping the Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908 in 2016, and has worked primarily as a broadcaster since then. 

He played for eight teams during his 14-year playing career, serving mostly as a backup catcher.

Ross worked as an analyst for ESPN since retiring while also operating as a special assistant to the Cubs' front office.

"David is as gifted a leader as I've ever come across, and I expect him to become a great manager," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a release.

"He is a natural connector with a high baseball IQ and a passion for winning. David has always stood out for his ability to cultivate the ingredients of a winning culture — accountability, hard work, hustle, competitiveness, trust, togetherness and team identity." 

Ross replaces Joe Maddon, who has since taken over the Los Angeles Angels after his contract with the Cubs was not renewed.

The Chicago Cubs are expected to hire David Ross as their next manager later this week, according to multiple reports.

While many had considered Ross the frontrunner to replace Joe Maddon even before the previous manager's departure from Chicago became official, the move still represents a departure of sorts for the organisation. 

Ross is only a few years removed from his playing days, having retired after helping the Cubs win the World Series - their first since 1908 - in 2016, and has worked primarily as a broadcaster since then.

You have to go back decades to find someone with a similar profile in the manager's role in Chicago — perhaps back to Phil Cavarretta's days as a player-manager in the early 1950s. 

However, hiring Ross would follow the trend that has taken hold around the MLB of recent former players getting high-profile jobs with little prior experience, particularly Aaron Boone with the New York Yankees and Alex Cora with the Boston Red Sox, though Cora did spend one season as the Houston Astros bench coach.

Ross, 42, played for eight teams during his 14-year career, serving mostly as a backup catcher.

He was always well-regarded by teammates and coaching staffs and had a reputation as someone who would mentor other players in the clubhouse. 

Ross has worked as an analyst for ESPN since retiring but has remained close to the Cubs, serving as a special assistant in the team's front office. He has made it clear throughout the process he would be interested in taking over as manager, and it appears he will now get his shot. 

Astros bench coach Joe Espada was widely mentioned as the other top contender for the job.

If the hire is going to be announced this week, Thursday would seem the most likely time, as it is a travel day for the World Series. 

Once the move is official, six managerial vacancies will remain around MLB, with the San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals still searching.  

Joe Maddon will not be staying on as the Chicago Cubs' manager in 2020 after a disappointing 2019 campaign.

Maddon led the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years in 2016, but his side have been eliminated from playoff contention with four games remaining.

Reports emerged on Sunday that Maddon would not be receiving a contract renewal, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.

The Cubs then called a news conference to confirm those reports, with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein stating: "this type of change is a win-win."

While the losing streak that saw Chicago plummet from NL Central and wild-card contention made Epstein's call easier, all indications had pointed to a change in the dugout, with the Cubs underachieving throughout the season in a winnable division. 

Despite his struggles in 2019, Maddon took the Cubs to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons, an unprecedented achievement. 

Reports have suggested the Cubs have already begun their hunt for a replacement, with former catcher David Ross considered the favourite to take over.

Ross retired after helping the Cubs win the World Series in 2016 and has served as a special assistant in the team's front office and as an ESPN commentator since then. 

The Nationals now have a crucial advantage in the National League wild-card game following their 10-7 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Saturday's victory against the already-eliminated Indians, the Nationals will host the MLB playoff contest at the beginning of October.

Gerardo Parra hit a grand slam in a whopping nine-run second inning to highlight the triumph, which is Washington's seventh consecutive win.

"I don't have to go home and pack," manager Dave Martinez said after the game, via ESPN. "Nice to stay at home. The boys wanted to stay at home, so they came out and swung the bats."

Nationals star Parra finished two of four for the night, along with Ryan Zimmerman, while Daniel Hudson earned the win after pitching one hitless inning.

 

Mets rookie Alonso sets record

Pete Alonso hit his 53rd home run on Saturday, which is more than any rookie in MLB history – surpassing Aaron Judge's record set in 2017. The New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 3-0.

Houston Astros star Justin Verlander struck out his 3,000th batter to become just the 18th pitcher to reach the milestone.

Hyun-jin Ryu pitched seven solid innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed their 105th win. He allowed five hits while striking out seven in the 2-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

 

Rays struggle against Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays recorded only three hits in a 4-1 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays had seven starters lay goose eggs, including Austin Meadows, Jesus Aguilar and Nate Lowe, who all went 0 for four.

Edwin Jackson gave up three runs on four hits in just three innings of work in the Detroit Tigers' 7-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Detroit split the doubleheader after a 4-3 victory.

 

Soler homers… again

What else do you expect from Kansas City Royals outfielder Jorge Soler? (P.S. This was his second home run of the game.)

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Villar has power and speed.

 

Saturday's results

Baltimore Orioles 9-4 Boston Red Sox
Minnesota Twins 4-3 Kansas City Royals
Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 Tampa Bay Rays
Chicago White Sox 7-1 Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers 4-3 Chicago White Sox
Washington Nationals 10-7 Cleveland Indians
Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 San Francisco Giants
Philadelphia Phillies 9-3 Miami Marlins
New York Mets 3-0 Atlanta Braves
Chicago Cubs 8-6 St Louis Cardinals
Texas Rangers 9-4 New York Yankees
Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies 3-2 Milwaukee Brewers
Houston Astros 6-3 Los Angeles Angels
Oakland Athletics 1-0 Seattle Mariners
Cincinnati Reds 4-2 Pittsburgh Pirates

 

Brewers at Rockies

Sunday marks the last day of the regular season and there is a lot at stake. One of the biggest games will be a must-win contest for the Brewers. They trail the Cardinals by one game after losing on Saturday. A Brewers win along with a Cardinals loss will put the two teams in a tie for first place in the NL Central, which would force Game 163. That is not all. The Rays are hoping for a win of their own, and an A's loss, to force a tie-breaker to decide who gets home-field advantage for the American League wild-card game.

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