Although Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to end the lockout, some details remained unclear. However, a recent meeting between the two sides could bring to light some new rules to be put in effect in 2022.
One of these rules could greatly impact Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels. Last season, the Angels were forced to forfeit their designated hitter if they wanted Ohtani to pitch and hit in the same game. On multiple occasions, it led to the team run thin on bench players or make Ohtani play in right field.
Now, it appears that those rules may be changing, as Ohtani may be able to stay in games as a designated hitter even if he pitches, according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post:
In addition, the deal also essentially has a Shohei Ohtani rule with the designated hitter becoming universal in the new collective bargaining agreement. The new rule stipulates that if the starting pitcher is also hitting in the lineup, then that player remains as the DH even if he is pulled from the start. Thus, if Ohtani, say, pitched five innings, he would still hit through the entire game. This rule is for the life of the new CBA, not just for 2022 and the hope is to promote more two-way players.
The league and union also agreed to two other rules in this tentative agreement. The first is to bring back the automatic runner on second base during extra innings in the regular season. The second is to expand rosters from 26 to 28 until May 1 of the 2022 season.
Both of these rules are only in effect for 2022. The “Ohtani rule,” however, exists for the life of the CBA, as Sherman reported. While the end goal is to promote more two-way players, for 2022, it really only provides a significant boost for Ohtani and the Angels.
It could also potentially provide some benefit to Michael Lorenzen, who is a two-way player in his own right. Perhaps he might take a game at the DH spot if he’s pitching and Ohtani wants a day off. Of course, that’s a discussion he’ll need to have with Joe Maddon.
The ability to keep Ohtani at DH after he’s pulled from a game as a pitcher gives the Angels significantly more flexibility with their bullpen and bench players. They no longer need to find a time to strategically pull Ohtani from games so as not to lose potential at-bats, and they don’t need to run through their bench if the game goes to extra innings or Ohtani is pulled early.
Angels avoid arbitration with three players
On Tuesday’s deadline, the Angels reached agreements with Max Stassi, Mike Mayers, and Tyler Wade on one-year contracts to avoid arbitration. Stassi will reportedly be paid $3 million in 2022, while Mayers will make $2.15 million and Wade $825K.