Winter is upon us as the previous CBA deal expired yesterday and a new CBA has yet to be agreed on. In a rush to be on a team before the lockout, free agents frantically discussed new contracts and other franchise faces politely asked for extensions. While we wait for a new deal, here are some of the big moves that were made during part one of the offseason.
The New York Mets – Steve Cohen took it personally
In the span of a week, the Mets went from being a sleeping giant to a hell-bent juggernaut. Noah Syndergaard leaving Queens had no reaction from sire Cohen, but when Steven Matz signed with the Cardinals over a reunion with the Mets, Cohen woke up and chose violence.
Almost overnight, Cohen boosted the hitting core by signing Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar. However, those deals were nothing compared to the acquisition of Max Scherzer, who signed a whopping three-year, $130 million deal to form a tandem with Jacob deGrom. With an improved roster and even stronger rotation, there’s almost no way the Mets don’t at least make the postseason. Let’s wait until September to see how that plays out.
The Toronto Blue Jays – Woe Canada
Signing Kevin Gausman was a big move to help upgrade the rotation, but I have one question. How do you let both AL Cy Young Winner Robbie Ray and AL MVP Finalist Marcus Semien sign elsewhere? There may be a level of extending Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at some point but having both Semien and Ray would have immensely increased a team’s chances of returning to the playoffs. Instead, we will watch a rotation of Gausman, Jose Berrios and Alek Manoah while Vladdy, Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio dominate on offense.
The Texas Rangers – Partners winning in the offseason
That said about Semien, he signed an impressive seven-year, $175 million deal to be one of the cornerstones in the Rangers’ infield. With his acquisition, there is a possibility he could go to shortstop, but he was having such a dominant season at second base that the Rangers added a shortstop bat as well.
That’s right; they acquired Corey Seager in free agency for 10 years and $275 million. In the blink of an eye, the Rangers went from being a bad team to having one of the best and most powerful infields in the game. Jon Gray helps the rotation a little bit, but one more piece should set the Rangers up with high expectations for the next few seasons.
Wander Franco – On Base
It’s cool to see a Rookie of the Year Finalist who has yet to play a full season getting a big extension of 10+ years while breaking the franchise’s contract record. Eleven years, $182 million; are we sure this isn’t Fernando Tatis Jr. in disguise?
Byron Buckston – Enough Said
Buxton finally showed his potential at the major league level last season despite being put on the IL twice. The Twins capped off their surprisingly bad season by extending Buxton for seven more years at $100 million. That is a steal of a deal, and if he plays up to it, this will be one of the better contracts in the Twins’ illustrious history.
Los Angeles Angels – Reinforcements for Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani (that’s a good thing)
Ohtani cannot do it all by himself despite winning the AL MVP award for his amazing ability to both pitch and hit. On offense, that comes in the form of Tyler Wade and Andrew Velazquez, who provide more depth to the infield and outfield than they already have. A healthy Trout and Anthony Rendon is going to do wonders to the rest of the offense.
The Halos responded to their pitching needs by signing Noah Syndergaard for one year and a reasonable price of $21 million. If someone like Reid Detmers or Patrick Sandoval becomes a legitimate starting arm, this could be a very good rotation come the start of the season. Add a guy like Michael Lorenzen to the bullpen while bringing back Raisel Iglesias, and the Angels went from bottom-tier to upper-middle of the pack in terms of their entire pitching staff. The competition in the AL West is going to be incredibly fierce next season.
Detroit Tigers – They’re back baby
This is a whole Coleumn by itself, but the Detroit Tigers are officially back. Let’s just focus on their major pickups this offseason.
First up was getting Tucker Barnhart in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. Having Barnhart was a nice upgrade for a backstop position that already features Eric Haase, but the Tigers kept going. They upgraded their pitching more than their farm system did and signed Eduardo Rodriguez for five years and $77 million. One of the things that the Tigers were lacking last year was a legitimate No. 2 arm behind Matthew Boyd; with Rodriguez, they have one of the best 1-2 punches in the game. This rotation is already nice with Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning, giving Detroit a very solid pitching staff for the future.
Finally, there was Javier Baez, who instantly improves the talent in the infield. Baez will likely play shortstop while Jonathan Schoop handles second base duties, giving the Tigers two versatile bats that can flash the leather with ease. People were once saying that the biggest need was having Miguel Cabrera’s contract expire, but with these new pieces in place, the Tigers are back on track to succeed.
There were a lot of great deals that occurred prior to the lockout, and free agency should be like this every single year. For now, certain baseball teams get to enjoy their early Christmas presents while the fanbase gets coal in their stocking due to a chemical mixture of ownership and the Players Association. The only thing on my baseball wishlist right now is a season in 2022.