Like it or not, the DH is coming to the National League

If you’re not ready for the designated hitter to be part of National League baseball, your time to get ready is getting shorter by the day. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and more than that, it’s a matter of how.Tony Clark, the players union chief and himself a designated hitter 101 times during his career, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday the “topic has come up, independent of us bringing it up.” This is the result of Major League Baseball’s move to two 15-team leagues, necessitating interleague play every day throughout the season, meaning that come September, some contenders are playing games under the other league’s rules. MORE: SN ranks the top 10 designated hitters everHaving a uniform set of rules across baseball would solve this problem, not to mention the simple annoyance of having a major professional sport playing with two different sets of rules since 1973. Getting rid of the DH entirely is not something that is going to happen. David Ortiz remains one of the best-known players in the game, and extending the careers of stars makes the game more marketable. Do you really think Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols, two of the best hitters of their generation, are going to be playing first base regularly in their 40s? The Yankees might not be completely thrilled to be welcoming Alex Rodriguez back this year, but they need his bat and they will be damn glad  they can put a man who turns 40 in July into their lineup as a DH rather than as a third baseman with two surgically repaired hips. These are people who put butts in seats and draw eyeballs to televisions, and the owners would be idiots to suggest doing away with that concept. That is where the poker game takes place. Installation of the designated hitter in the National League is a collective bargaining issue, and talks for a new CBA are expected to begin next winter. Traditionally, the DH has been viewed as something that the owners could use as a bargaining chip to extract something they wanted from the players, because DH jobs have tended to go to highly paid veteran sluggers, and opening more than a dozen such jobs in the National League would be nice for the union.Now, though, there is incentive for the owners to want to add the DH to the Nati

onal League, and not just from a competitive equity standpoint in pennant races.New commissioner Rob Manfred has been looking at the major leagues’ recent dip in offense as something that is troublesome, and while that notion is debatable, what is very clear is that an easy way to boost scoring would be to take 15 pitchers’ spots out of batting orders and replace them with men paid exclusively to swing bats.Even if there are owners who debate the notion that offense needs to be pumped up, or who cling to love of strategy and double-switches, there is another factor that should sing to them: protecting your investment. The only two nine-figure contracts given out in free agency this winter went to National League pitchers — Jon Lester with Chicago and Max Scherzer with Washington, while Brandon McCarthy and James Shields also were among the 10 most lucrative signings, going to Los Angeles and San Diego, respectively. 2015: Impact rookies | Players under pressureWhile injuries to pitchers while hitting are rare, they certainly do happen, and what owner wants to be stuck in a situation with a major asset compromised because of something unrelated to his primary job? It’s one thing for a pitcher to blow out his elbow throwing a fastball, and quite another for him to tear up his knee running the bases.Likewise, adding the DH to the National League would allow clubs in the Senior Circuit to give partial rest to star hitters, keeping them more effective over the long haul while still contributing to the cause. How happy would the world champion Giants be to be able to slot Buster Posey in as their DH once a week? One of San Francisco’s best players was a shell of himself in last year’s playoffs, in part because of the toll taken on his body from catching every day.The benefits of the DH are there for both sides, with opposition coming largely on sentimental grounds. If both the players and the owners recognize this, and the DH no longer is viewed as a bargaining chip — which is what Clark was hinting at by saying that it’s been brought up independently of the union bringing it up — you will see designated hitters in National League parks sooner than later.