The past few days have been bitter-sweet for MLB fans. They were treated to a flurry of activity, including multiple high-profile signings, but it came at a cost. The madness came to a screeching halt this morning when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expired, and MLB entered a lockout. The reason for the frenzy is due to the uncertain length of the lockout.
With reports that the two sides are “extremely distant,” it is unknown when operations will resume. Some issues the two sides are running into include rule changes (such as a universal DH, a pitch clock, starting with runners on base in extra innings, and a minimum-batter rule), the running of MLB’s daily operations from a financial standpoint, and the treatment of minor-league players among other numerous other things.
So, which free agents decided to air on the side of caution and sign before the lockout?
The crown jewel of free agency thus far is right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer. The 37-year-old signed a three-year, $130 million contract on Monday. He will partner with Jacob deGrom to make one of the most lethal one-two duos in MLB history.
The Mets did not stop there. Owner Steve Cohen is going all-in, as he signed three other high-end players. Outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha, along with infielder Eduardo Escobar, signed deals with New York.
The Mets are not the only team making multiple big moves. The Texas Rangers (yes you read that right) signed two of this off-season’s most sought after free agents. The Rangers paid Marcus Siemen $175 million over seven years before shelling out $325 million over ten years on 2020 World Series M.V.P. Corey Seager. On top of all that, Texas signed a quality arm in John Gray on a four-year, $56 million contract.
The Blue Jays have been busy in the past few days, too. Toronto signed right-hander Kevin Gausman to a five-year, $110 million deal after he pitched to a 2.81 ERA with 227 strikeouts with San Francisco in 2020. The Jays also re-signed Jose Berrios seven-year, $131 million extension after acquiring him at the trade deadline last season.
Signing two pitchers comes at a cost, though. Toronto lost the 2020 American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray to the Seattle Mariners. Ray and Seattle are finalizing a five-year, $115 million contract that would give the Mariners a potent one-two punch of Ray and Chris Flexen.
The American League West would not be done with just Texas and Seattle. The Angels have finally acquired some top-end pitching, signing former-Mets Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Loup. Syndergaard was inked to a one-year, $21 million deal after missing the majority of the 2020 season due to Tommy John Surgery. Loup is coming off a career year where he notched a 0.95 ERA in 65 games. Los Angeles rewarded that play with a two-year, $17 million contract.
Speaking of former Mets, the Javier Baez saga is finally over, and he did not end up back in New York. The Detroit Tigers and Baez are in agreement on a six-year, $140 million contract. This is near the same length and value that Baez and the Chicago Cubs were discussing in an extension a few seasons ago that never came to fruition. The Tigers also signed a top-end arm. Eduardo Rodriguez decided to leave Boston and take $77 million over five years to join the up-and-coming Tigers.
Other big names to come off the board:
Anthony DeSclafani – SP – San Francisco Giants – 3-years, $36 million
Marcus Stroman – SP – Chicago Cubs – 3-years, $71 million
Avisail Garcia – OF – Miami Marlins – 4-years, $53 million
Kendall Graveman – RP – Chicago White Sox – 3-years, $24 million
Steven Matz – SP – St. Louis Cardinals – 4-years, $44 million
Chris Taylor – UTL – Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-year, $60 million
Brandon Belt – 1B – San Francisco Giants – 1-year, $18.4 million
Justin Verlander – SP – Houston Astros – 1-year, $25 million
Corey Kluber – SP – Tampa Bay Rays – 1-year, $8 million
Andrew Heaney – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers – 1-year, $8.5 million
Yan Gomes – C – Chicago Cubs – 2-years, $13 million
Big names that remain free agents:
Carlos Correa – SS – age 27
Freddie Freeman – 1B – age 32
Trevor Story – SS – age 29
Kris Bryant – 3B/OF – age 29
Clayton Keshaw – SP – age 33
Nick Castellanos – OF – age 29
Carlos Rodon – SP – age 28
Michael Conforto – OF – age 28
Anthony Rizzo – 1B – age 32
Alex Wood – SP – age 30
Yusei Kikuchi – SP – age 30