Major League Baseball continues to deliberate major changes ahead of the 2021 season. Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Report: MLB still discussing universal DH, expanded playoffs for 2021

Major League Baseball previously sent a memo to teams in December telling them not to expect a universal designated hitter in 2021, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. However, it appears that might have changed. 

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, MLB is still discussing several rule changes for 2021, including bringing back the universal DH. The league also fears that the pandemic could "create havoc"  for the 2021 schedule, resulting in ongoing discussions about the return of seven-inning doubleheaders and extra-innings games starting with a runner on second base.

The Major League Baseball Players Association must approve the rule changes. According to Nightengale, the MLBPA is expected to approve the changes because most players enjoyed them during the pandemic-shortened campaign in 2020. 

MLB is reportedly seeking a 14-team expanded playoff, two fewer teams than last season but four more than the standard format. 

The universal DH was designed to prevent pitchers in the National League from being overworked and injured during the shortened season. Despite a 162-game schedule being prepared for 2021, the universal DH will help keep players healthy in these unexpected circumstances. 

The coronavirus could heavily impact the 2021 schedule. We've already seen the NBA postpone several games due to COVID-19 issues, and it's likely the NHL will have to postpone games if cases spread. 

The rule changes will benefit both MLB and the MLBPA. However, we'll have to wait and see if both sides can agree to a deal. 

Erin Walsh is a Boston sports fan through and through. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bridgewater State University and currently is in pursuit of her Master's Degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Follow her on Twitter @ewalsh90.

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