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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says don't expect the DH to come to the National League before 2021

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred at the Museum of

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred at the Museum of the City of New York's exclusive photo exhibit to begin the yearlong Jackie Robinson Centennial Celebration. Credit: Newsday /Howard Simmons

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that fans should not expect the designated hitter to come to the National League anytime soon.

"I don't see anything happening on this outside of the context of collective bargaining," Manfred said at the Associated Press Sports Editors commissioners meetings in Manhattan, "so don't worry about it until at least 2021 [when the current CBA expires]."

Manfred said the designated hitter would take away the thing that makes the National League unique.

"Personally, I think the debate about the DH and differences in the brand of baseball is a good thing," Manfred said. "I do think that if we move the DH to the National League we would eliminate or make extinct a brand of baseball. I think that would be an unfortunate result.

"Nobody plays the National League brand of baseball other than the National League," Manfred said. "I think that would be an unfortunate outcome."

Manfred said at the end of the owners' meetings in Orlando in February that the clock was "kind of ticking" on implementing the DH in the NL for the 2019 season. 

MLB sent the Players Association a proposal in January that included pace-of-play and other items such as a 20-second pitch clock and a three-batter minimum for relievers. The union countered with its own proposal that included economic issues, such as adding the DH to the NL, changes to calculating service time for players and the amateur draft. The owners consider adding the DH to the NL an economic issue because it can be a high-salaried position.

Manfred said in February that the designated hitter, service time and the amateur draft were "significant economic issues."

While the CBA runs through 2021, Manfred said in February that he would be willing to discuss the items, such as the designated hitter, before then. But that doesn't appear to be the case any longer.

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