Baseball’s labor negotiations have entered the swamp of fire, and both sides must avoid the lightning arena, blasts of fire, and any ROUS confrontation to find their way to a CBA deal before the season is supposed to start. because missing games would be inconceivable. And yes, we know what that word means.
But just because it will take a while for the two sides to come to some kind of resolution, that doesn’t mean we have to stop arguing about what could / should happen when the sport finally resumes.
Because when you do, and teams can sign free agents and trade again, you’ll see a flurry of activity. It’s probably going to be a lot of fun, honestly, to watch free agents sign contracts and watch teams trade after trade. After all, what else are the main office guys going to do during the lockout besides planning their reassembly strategy?
POSTLOCKOUT PRIORITIES: AL East | NL East | NL Central | NL West
So we’re looking at division by division what’s on the record for all 30 teams. Today, it is AL Central.
Chicago White Sox
Summary prior to blocking: Kendall Graveman is an excellent addition to the bullpen, and keeping Leury Garcia on a three-year contract is a wonderful safety net. They exercised the option on Craig Kimbrel, even though most people expect the Sox to trade him after he failed as Liam Hendriks’ setter last year.
The first thing to do: Who will play second baseman for Tony La Russa’s club? They traded Nick Madrigal for Kimbrel, and his replacement, Cesar Hernandez, signed with the Nationals in November. Garcia will see a lot of starts there, but his value is as a versatile player who sees regular starts and at-bats all over the diamond. So … change for Jean Segura? As others have pointed out, a 1-for-1 trade of Kimbrel for Segura makes perfect sense for both teams (Philadelphia could definitely use Kimbrel in that bullpen). Change for Tony Kemp? The A’s are willing to move just about anyone.
Also on the list: Is Michael Kopech a 30-start player in 2022? Probably not, considering he pitched just under 70 innings in 2021. So bringing in another rotation option or two makes perfect sense, at least for depth. Carlos Rodon would make fans happy, but that might be a bit surprising at this point.
Summary prior to blocking: * crickets *
The first thing to do: It is the annual clock “with whom they are going to exchange”, practically. All eyes on José Ramírez this time.
Also on the list: See which recovery candidates might be interested in a one-year deal with a team option by 2023.
Summary prior to blocking: The Tigers spent most of the season saying two things: “We’re about to be a good team and we’re going to spend the offseason getting better.” They’ve done exactly that so far, moving quickly to add Eduardo Rodríguez to the rotation, Javier Báez to the lineup at shortstop and veteran Tucker Barnhart behind the plate.
The first thing to do: The Tigers have a set of young rotation options, led by Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning, but adding another veteran (or two) to that combination seems like a smart plan.
Also on the list: A lot depends on what they think about the chances of Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson contributing at the start of the season. If they’re going to slow down with their elite prospects, maybe add an established outfielder (Joc Pederson?) AND / or an established second baseman (so Jonathan Schoop can move to first, with Miguel Cabrera as full-time designated hitter). It is a good idea.
Kansas City Royals
Summary prior to blocking: There is not much here. The only notable acquisition was the signing of Taylor Clarke, who was not tendered by the Diamondbacks after posting a 4.99 ERA in 171 1/3 innings over the past three seasons.
The first thing to do: They’d like to move 1B / DH Carlos Santana and his $ 10.5 million salary, but with an OPS + of 78 and an on-base percentage of .319 last year, heading into his 36-year season, that’s going to be tough. .
Also on the list: Probably most important this spring is that the Royals will want to use spring training to see if Bobby Witt, Jr. is ready to hit the big leagues and if he is a viable option at third base. Pitching, of course, needs attention too. Nicky Lopez was a bright spot at shortstop in 2021.
MORE: Each Team’s Holiday Wish List
Summary prior to blocking: The Twins answered Byron Buxton’s puzzling question: Retain him or let him go as a free agent next year? – with an incentive-laden extension that will be of great help to the club if it stays healthy and not catastrophic if it doesn’t. They also took a steering wheel on a rebound from Dylan Bundy.
The first thing to do: The Twins have to address their rotation, with at least one established starter not trying to rebuild his career after a 6.06 ERA last year (Bundy). You probably need at least two.
Also on the list: If they can move veteran third baseman Josh Donaldson, they should make that happen. Adding the bullpen would also be smart.