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Friday, January 21, 2022

MLB Free Agency Rundown

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By Marvin A Azrak After the Atlanta Braves completed their fortuitous World Series run, I announced I would be checking out of the baseball world until the
Winter Meetings where all the offseason action takes place. Yet, with the current collective bargaining agreement between players and owners set to expire at 11:59PMET on December 1st, forcing an inventible lockout, they’ve unofficially moved up one week as money is being thrown around the leagues. There’s plenty of offseason left but let’s dive into what has happened thus far.

METS TAKING OFFSEASON TO THE MAX:
The most unforeseen move of the offseason thus far has been made by the Mets. The club agreed to a deal with three-time CY Young award winner Max Scherzer.
Scherzer, 37, received a record-setting three-year $130 million deal with an opt-out of the second season that makes him the highest-paid pitcher in the game in terms of Average Annual value at $43 million per season. The transaction now gives the Mets the leading 1-2 punch in baseball as Max will now pair up with two-time CY Young award winner Jacob Degrom. Also featured in the Steve Cohen/Billy Eppler spending spree were INF/OF Eduardo Escobar(2 years, $20 million) OF Mark Cahana(2 years $26.5 million) and the top on the market in OF Starling Marte at four years $78 million. As currently constructed, New York has the potential of a playoff team, and if Major League expands the field from 10 to 14 teams, you will likely see the Amazins as one of the seven from the NL.
However, many questions remain unanswered and are due by Opening Day, including who will become the 23rd manager in franchise history.
Nevertheless, the Mets are no longer being used as lucrative leverage to raise other teams’ prices; instead, they’re the ones that are now prying the big fish from the market.

RANGERS BLOW PAST “PRICE RANGE”:
Imagine If someone gave you $1billion; how fast do you think you’d spend it? If you ask the Texas Rangers, their answer would likely be about half that in 24 hours which is exactly what happened on Monday. Coming off a 60 win season, the team entered free agency looking for players to build around and were willing to do anything to make a splash for the fans at two years old spacious Globe Life Field. Here we are hours later, and the revamped and lavish Texas infield Marcus Semien(7 years $175 million) and Corey Seager, the latter of who they gave a substantial ten-year $325 million too, are making headlines. The Rangers also have young swinging Isaiah Kiner-Falefa at first and hotshot prospect Josh Jung at third. Semien and set a. a record for second basemen HR in a season with 45, and now possess a contract that will likely take him up until the tail end of his career at age 38.

Seager, meanwhile, is 28, which does explain the lengthy contract, but the surplus is in question. While he did slug .306 last season with a .915 OPS and was the 2020 NLCS and World Series MVP with the Los Angeles Dodgers, slashing .328(BA)/ .425(OBP) and a 1.171 OPS, his defense hasn’t lived up to his offense, and he isn’t even the #1 shortstop on the market, with that honor belonging to Carlos Correa. He landed a similar deal to what Manny Machado (10 years $330 million) received from the San Diego Padres in 2018. Still, Manny was highly coveted, had multiple individual honors on both sides of the ball, and topped his market.
However, considering the Rangers led the basement in 2021 in OBP with a dreadful .294 mark, as well as OPS with a pitiful.670, and were 29th in batting average at .232, these acquisitions are significant upgrades.

Elsewhere, Texas also signed ten-year veteran OF Kole Calhoun to a one-year $5.2 million and aided the pitching staff by luring in Jon Gray for four years and $56 million. In total, the team spent $561.2 million enforcing the “Everything’s bigger in Texas” mantra.

However, should teams now fear the Rangers as postseason contenders in 2021? Not at the slightest, as although these are eye-popping moves, the team is still looking to fill long-term holes elsewhere, which means the rebuilding process is ongoing. But Texas should be encouraged when manager Chris Woodward’s team improves from 60-102 to 75-87 in 2022.

JAYS MAKE ROTATION SWAP:
Toronto swapped CY Young award winner Robbie Ray for Giants ace Kevin Gausman in free agency. Ray is making $23 million a year in his new five-year contract with Seattle, while Gausman is making $22 million AAV over the next five years, so the “price” reasoning is invalidated. But while they’re only a year apart age-wise, Gausman is likely has more time in his prime than Ray who’s peak has been eclipsed with the resurgent CY Young victory. The Jays now boast a rotation of
1. Jose Berríos
2. Hyun Jin Ryu
3. Kevin Gausman
4. Alek Manoah
5. Nate Pearson

“STALL” NO MORE:
The Marlins acquired catcher Jacob Stallings in a trade with the Pirates for pitcher Zach Thomson and prospects. Miami was in the market for a catcher and was believed to be talking to the Yankees about Gary Sanchez before things took an unfortunate late turn in negotiations.
The team also agreed to a deal with OF Aviasal Garcia for four years, $53 million.

BAEZ/EROD TO MOTOR CITY:
The Tigers are coming off a 77-85 campaign where they showed progress under new manager AJ Hinch. Now they will look to contend in the potentially expanded Wild Card race after the acquisitions of starter Eduardo Rodriguez(5 years $177 million) and shortstop Javier Baez who’s said to be near a six-year $140 million pact with Detroit.

MATZ TO CARDS:
ST Louis has solidified its rotation with the acquisition of Steven Matz who agreed to a four year $44 million deal. Matz is coming off a career season with the Blue Jays, as he went 14-7 in 29 starts with a 3.82 ERA. He joins the likes of Jack Flaherty and
Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals rotation. The fallout from news was ugly since Matz gave Mets owner Steve Cohen the impression they would get the last word, before abruptly heading central.

WILSON CONTREAS ON THE BLOCK:
The Cubs agreed to a one year $13 million deal with veteran catcher Yan Gomes meaning their all-star has likely played his last game as a Cub, and he even acknowledged this by tweeting plane emojis after the news broke.

UP NEXT:
It remains to be seen what will transpire before the lockout hits, which will likely alter the luxury tax threshold among other important matters around the game, including the price teams pay for free agents. It’s unclear whether that’s going to be higher or lower.

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