There's been a lot of talk about the designated hitter in the past week: First there were reports that the National League would considering adopting it, which was quickly followed by commissioner Rob Manfred telling Jerry Crasnick, "The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo."
Still, there's clearly more momentum than ever for the NL adding the DH -- which it nearly did in 1980, when a vote failed 5-4 due to a comedy of errors. Pirates GM Harding Peterson was going to vote with the Phillies, and it was presumed the Phillies would vote for the DH, considering they had Greg Luzinski and Keith Moreland on their roster. But when it was announced during the meeting that the DH would be adopted for 1982 instead of 1981, Phillies GM Bill Giles was unsure what owner Ruly Carpenter wanted. Trouble was: Carpenter was on a fishing trip and couldn't be reached, so Giles abstained, as did the Pirates and a third team, and the four "yes" fell three short of the simply majority needed to pass. The NL has never again voted on adding the DH.
I'll leave the DH debate to others for now, but here's a question: If the NL did adopt the DH, who are good candidates to fill those 15 new positions? One answer is "lots of guys," since AL teams often rotate players through the DH slot. Last year, there were just six DHs who played at least 130 games there. Victor Martinez played 104 games there and will presumably be a full-time DH in 2016. Edwin Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz played 85 and 72 games there in 2015 but are projected to be regular DHs in 2016. So maybe half the teams will have a full-time DH.
Anyway, here are some good DH candidates for NL teams:
Pedro Alvarez, unsigned: He's a born DH, having played himself off third base and flunking his audition at first base in 2015 when he committed 23 errors for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Given that he's twice popped 30 home runs and hit 27 in 2015, it seems the Pirates would have likely retained his services as a DH. Instead, they didn't offer him a contract for 2016 and he remains unsigned. Trouble is, most AL teams have either committed already to a DH or prefer to rotate players through. Maybe he ends up in Baltimore if the Orioles are willing to play Chris Davis or Mark Trumbo in the outfield.
Yasmany Tomas, Arizona Diamondbacks: You wonder if the D-backs would have included Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller trade if they'd had a DH option for Tomas. They initially tried Tomas at third base before moving him to right field, where he started 54 games. Wanting to give him a regular chance to play in 2016, the D-backs traded Inciarte, weakening their defense in the process.
David Wright, New York Mets: Given his back problems, Wright would be better served as a DH these days. He's signed through 2020 and while he's certainly more valuable if he can remain at third base, the biggest priority for the Mets is just keeping him in the lineup as much as possible. Making him a DH would help.
Matt Kemp or Wil Myers, San Diego Padres: A season ago, the Padres planned on trying Myers in center field. That went so well they're trying him at first base this season. But he's young enough and athletic enough that you wouldn't want to turn him into a DH just yet. So moving Myers to right field and Kemp to DH would make more sense. Kemp's defensive metrics have been poor for several years now: Since 2013, his minus-44 defensive runs saved is the worst of any outfielder.
Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers: Ethier is a better outfielder than Kemp, but he doesn't really have a defined role for the Dodgers in 2016, assuming Joc Pederson plays every day and Yasiel Puig stays healthy. He'll play some left field, but the Dodgers also want to work Scott Van Slyke and Trayce Thompson into the lineup (not to mention Carl Crawford). Making Ethier a full-time DH would solve one headache for new manager Dave Roberts.
Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs: He can fake left field and the Cubs will still work him behind the plate a bit, but let's be honest: He looks like born a DH. He made 1.31 plays per nine innings in left field last year, compared to the league average of 1.79. Maybe he'll get better with more time out there, but given his size and lack of speed, his eventual home is likely as a DH.
Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals: Once a good outfielder, age and injuries have led to declining metrics for Werth, who posted minus-11 DRS last year in just half a season. He still has two years remaining on his contract and making him a DH would allow for a better defensive outfield of Ben Revere in left and Michael Taylor in center.
Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals: On the other hand, maybe Murphy would make for a perfect DH. He wouldn't be the prototypical power-hitting DH, but he would provide solid enough production there (especially if his second-half power surge, when he slugged .490, is for real). Plus, there's the added benefit of getting his lack of range out of the middle infield.
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants: This would be a controversial move because Posey is still a very good defensive catcher. But the Giants have been giving him less and less work behind the plate: 119 starts in 2013, 109 in 2014 and 103 in 2015. His bat is so valuable that maybe it trumps the value of his defense. At the minimum, he could DH when he doesn't catch, which means Bruce Bochy wouldn't have to bench Brandon Belt when Posey slides over to first base.