Winter is here, and the long wait until MLB and MLBPA agree to a new collective bargaining agreement will be much colder for some teams and their fan bases than others.
The Rangers were aggressive before the blocking hit, signing center infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to massive deals and bringing in Jon Gray to help shore up the rotation. The Mets blocked Max Scherzer, as well as Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha. The Tigers brought in Javier Báez and Eduardo Rodríguez.
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The fans of those clubs are happy, with the big gifts wrapped and under the tree. But for fans of other teams, and other players still out there, the wait could be the hardest part.
Let’s look at five teams and five players in limbo during the lockout.
Teams in limbo
Few fan bases viewed the free agent frenzy with more distress than Yankees fans. They heard what they wanted to hear early in the offseason: The Yankees said they needed a shortstop, said they were open to someone other than the frequently injured Aaron Hicks in center field, and they planned to increase payroll in 2022. Good start, right? However, nothing major has happened for the Yankees. They watched the Rangers, the RANGERS, of all teams, give $ 500 million to two guys who would have been perfect for shortstop at Yankee Stadium. And this is going to be almost the tweet that haunts Yankees fans throughout the lockdown …
The Yankees are among the teams that control Andrelton Simmons. They have always liked the defensive genius.
– Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 29, 2021
The 2022 A’s will have a lot of different player profile photos, once those photos are returned to the MLB.com team roster pages. The club is in liquidation mode, and the Matts, first baseman Olson and third baseman Chapman, are sure to leave when things resume. And teams looking for rotation improvements will call on the Athletics, because Chris Bassett, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea would be big improvements for teams looking to solidify playoff-bound rotations. Sales prices will be high, which could be perfect for the short time between the signing of the new collective agreement and the eventual start of the 2022 season.
The consistent inconsistency over the past four years has been deeply infuriating for Phillies fans; the club’s finals, in order: two games below .500, exactly .500, four games below .500, and two games above .500. Nothing speaks more directly to the more serious problems the Phillies have than the fact that Bryce Harper won the MVP of 2021 and Zack Wheeler finished second in the Cy Young voting and the club barely passed .500. They need as many bullpen improvements as possible (seriously, they should sign every reliever) and they need center field, shortstop and left field improvements. Is Alec Bohm the long-term answer at third base? It certainly didn’t look like it in 2021.
The Dodgers lost both Max Scherzer and Corey Seager on the same day, although completing the deal to retain Chris Taylor before the lockout helped the Dodgers maintain an enviable degree of positional flexibility as they made up next year’s roster. They’ll be in the market for a big hitter, but they still have a playoff-worthy lineup right now. The question is what they will do with the rotation, which at the moment has Walker Buehler and Julio Urias, a great 1-2, but not much more in terms of certainty. Are they bringing Clayton Kershaw back, as expected? Do you trade for one of the A’s starters on the market? Do you find answers in the free agent market, even though most of the best starters have signed the likes of Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman, Marcus Stroman and Eduardo Rodriguez? They are certainly not over.
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The Reds made their intentions clear early in the offseason, when they sent catcher Tucker Barnhardt to Detroit and let starter Wade Miley walk through waivers. What’s next Certainly not containment. It seems likely that the club will move starter Sonny Gray, and if the price is right, and with panicky front offices scrambling to make moves after the lockout ends, it could be, rumors suggest they will trade ace Luis as well. Castle. Joey Votto isn’t going anywhere, but Mike Moustakas could have gone too. They may not trade as many major league pieces as the Athletics at the start of the season, but they will trade more than most other teams.
Players in limbo
Yes, he’s still a free agent, and Braves fans will have to spend the next couple of months trying to avoid the worrying “Freddie’s leaving, right?” thoughts. The truth is, there is a better chance that you will sign elsewhere after everything resumes than before everything shuts down. Why? Options are more limited for some teams now than they were at the start of free agency. The Dodgers wanted to keep Corey Seager, but he accepted the gigantic contract offered by the Rangers. So if LA wants to replace their left-handed bat in the lineup (they do), what are their options? Suddenly, Freeman seems very attractive. If the Yankees decide they want another great bat in the lineup (they do) and don’t want to pay for Carlos Correa (apparently not), Freeman’s left-handed bat looks great at first base. The Red Sox may not want Bobby Dalbec for the first time full time in 2022 and are wowed by the idea of Freeman playing there. Basically, this is the question Braves fans need to ponder during the lockout: Will Atlanta’s front office win a bidding war for Freeman?
The Athletics will almost certainly trade Olson, who is eligible to become a free agent after the 2023 season. The same teams that are interested in Freeman will almost certainly be interested in Olson, and if the Braves lose to Freeman, they would logically be involved in exchange discussions, depending on the moment. The Rangers would love a first base upgrade, and trading for Olson would be more appealing than doling out another massive contract after the deals they gave Seager and Semien.
The free agent shortstop roster was impressive heading into the offseason, both in quality and quantity. Now, Seager, Semien, and Baez are off the board. Correa, who was at the top of most free agent rankings, is still there, as is Trevor Story. Seager signed for $ 325 million with the Rangers, and Correa, five months younger and coming off a better season, with a much higher career bWAR (34.1 to 21.3), envisions a very similar deal. The question is, who gives you the deal? Are the Dodgers replacing Seager with Correa, keeping Trea Turner (free agent after 2022) at second base? Do the Yankees hire him, how do their fans want him? A mysterious team backs up the Brinks truck? Stay tuned (but don’t hold your breath).
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Bryant is unique among free agents because he is a powerful bat in the lineup who can play extended stretches in multiple defensive positions. That’s a nice advantage for any team that hires him. He can play third base, either in the corner of the field and at first base. You can also replace in center field, although that’s probably not ideal for an entire season. Which basically means any team could find a way to get Bryant into their lineup.
You’ll hear a decent amount about shaky defense and they are mostly true. But the designated hitter almost certainly will make it to the National League, and Castellanos can hit, and he can hit anywhere. It’s the kind of bat that helps a “meh” offense turn into a good offense, or a good offense turn into a great offense. Don’t overthink it. If your favorite team needs an outfielder (or designated hitter) and the offense needs a boost, Castellanos is the best option.
@thesportingnews The comment section on the 1990 #MLB crash was RIDICULOUS. #lockout #sports #baseball # 90 #news ♬ Work imminent – DJ BAI