Photo By: Lesly Juarez from Unsplash
After what were a really fun couple of days of free agent signings and trades, the MLB officially locked out the players after the now-old collective bargaining agreement expired at 12:00 a.m. on Dec. 1 to no one’s surprise. They still have two-plus months to figure this out before it really starts to become worrisome. In the meanwhile, though, the days leading up to Dec. 1 saw a flurry of signings, including several of the big fish, in what was really an NBA-like free agent frenzy.
I think we have to start off with the fact that the Texas Rangers dropped half a billion dollars on two players, signing Marcus Semien for seven years/$175 million, and Corey Seager for a gargantuan 10 years/$325 million. While that certainly makes for the best middle infield in the game, Texas has been really bad as of late. Like, 100-plus-losses-last-year bad. They’re clearly trying to just buy their way back into relevancy, which, I mean, they just did. Semien and Seager bring experience and professionalism to an organization that has, um, lacked that, in recent years, not to mention their actual baseball-playing abilities which are abundant.
The AL West — aside from Oakland, bless their fans — really stole the spotlight for once. Texas obviously made two huge splashes, not to mention smaller yet still significant signings in Jon Gray and to a lesser extent Kole Calhoun. Seattle poached Robbie Ray away from Toronto to be the new ace of their staff as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The Angels re-signed their shutdown closer, Raisel Iglesias, for four years/$58 million, brought in Aaron Loup, Noah Syndergaard, and will have a healthy Mike Trout to pair with Shohei Ohtani to terrorize their opponents.
And then there’s the New York Mets, who agreed to pay 37-year-old future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer $130 million for three years of work, with an annual salary of a cool $43.3 million. Oh, and his old team of Washington will also be paying him $15 million as part of his previous contract with the Nationals, so Scherzer will be making $58.3 million in total each of the next three years. Kooky.
Detroit kicked off the offseason by signing Eduardo Rodríguez to a four-year deal, and made their big splash by signing Javier Báez to a six-year/$140 million contract. They were linked to Carlos Correa for obvious reasons, but ended up opting for the less-good but also less-expensive option in Báez. The Tigers remind me very much of the Blue Jays from a few years ago; they’ve built a really nice farm system after trading it all away when they were in contention in the early 2010s, and went through some dark years shortly after. Their top pitching prospects, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal both played their first full season in 2021 and looked good at times, not great at others, but both showed promise, especially Mize.
Their top prospect, Spencer Torkelson, destroyed minor league pitching this past season, finished the year off at Triple-A, and then hit .450 with an OPS of 1.157 in the Arizona Fall League. I think he’s ready to be promoted to the big leagues. They made a terrific trade for catcher Tucker Barnhart, and have pieces in place — Jeimer Candelario, Jed Lowrie, Gregory Soto — to be competitive in the crappy AL Central.
Marcus Stroman signed a three-year/$71 million with an opt out after two years with the Chicago Cubs, which is a bit interesting considering they seemed to be going into rebuild mode this summer, but nevertheless a decent deal for a guy who will age well moving forward.
Miami signed Avisaíl García to a pretty plump contract, and reports are saying that they’re interested in the still-unsigned Kyle Schwarber too. Well, that conflicts with my wishes that Toronto sign Schwarber, given how valuable he would be as a lefty power bat who can split time between DH and leftfield, but really to mash the bejeezus out of the baseball and break up the slew of righties the Jays currently employ. Go sign him.
While it was a lot of fun to see all these signings happen all at once, it was really only due to the impending lockout, so I guess that’s not great. News should be pretty much exclusively labour negotiation stuff over the next few months, so also kinda boring, but it will be interesting to see what comes out of it. I for one, am praying daily that they don’t implement some awful expanded playoff format. I know they will sadly expand it, but please for the love of god don’t go higher than 12! Sigh.