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Looking at the Pre MLB Lockout Deals

Recapping the Pre-Lockout Signings with the Biggest Impact

With the MLB lockout lingering beyond Valentine's Day—the traditional time frame for pitchers and catchers to report for Spring Training—fans are left wondering if Opening Day will be pushed back and, if so, how far?

As the MLB lockout continues, it’s difficult for fans to find anything to be excited about. This offseason was loaded with potential for front-page news, seeing how many big names hit the free-agent market at the end of the season and the amount of money that was going to be spent on monster contracts (lookin’ at you, Carlos Correa). Rumors are swirling around the Internet that we should expect to finally see the universal DH. As a hardcore baseball fan, I should be losing sleep wondering what this means for Kyle Schwarber, but it’s hard to get excited for a season that may not happen.

Before the MLB lockout officially went into effect, a handful of deals were made that should shake up a couple of divisions. Here’s a brief recap of the biggest deals that were closed before the lockout.

  1. Texas Rangers (60 – 102)

The Texas Rangers have a stable of promising young talent, and Brock Holt, that got some valuable big-league time during the season despite finishing in last place in the AL West. In desperate need of veteran players and star power, the Rangers got both by signing Corey Seager to a 10-year/$325 million deal and Marcus Semien for $175 million over seven years. Both players are shortstops, but it looks like Semien will be making the move to second base after having played there in an MVP-contending season for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021. While it’s going to take more than a middle infield to compete for a Wild Card spot—let alone the division—the Rangers are certainly poised to make some noise in a wild, wild AL West.

  1. Detroit Tigers (77 – 85)

The days of Justin Verlander’s dominance in the Motor City have long passed. With Manager AJ Hinch at the wheel, the Tigers were able to claw their way to a third-place finish in the AL Central, showing a lot of promise in the second half. Not long after the World Series, the Tigers scooped up left-handed starter Eduardo Rodríguez for five years at $77 million and Javier Baez for six years at $140 million, for a total of $217 million. After an up-and-down start coming back from COVID-related myocarditis, E-Rod is coming off one of his most dominant seasons yet. Moving from arguably the most competitive division with the Red Sox to one of the least competitive—and a far more pitcher-friendly park—Rodríguez’s contract should prove to be a steal. After Hinch’s rumored “lunch that turned into dinner” meeting with Carlos Correa, it was a bit of a shock to see the team sign Baez. While he doesn’t have Correa’s platinum glove, Baez does have two Gold Gloves of his own and should add some much-needed stability to the Tigers infield.

  1. New York Mets (77 – 85)

Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha. The Mets are having a “must-win now” moment as their projected salary reaches near $263 million, and allegedly they are willing to get closer to the $300 million mark. With all these big-name signings (in addition to the big names they already had in Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor), the Mets are starting to look like their subway series rivals. The Mets competed for the NL East for quite a while last season until they stumbled to a loud and disappointing third-place finish that saw the players (most notably Javier Baez) and fans booing each other. Regardless of whether the reigning champion Atlanta Braves can sign Freddie Freeman, the Mets—with Buck Showalter to guide them—are positioning themselves as the front-runners for the NL East.

  1. Tampa Bay Rays (100 – 62)

The biggest news to come out of St. Petersburg this offseason is that the league will not approve a half-season split between Tropicana Stadium and Montreal. Allegedly, the league is looking into replacing the Trop, which has the same welcoming environment as an empty warehouse, but it’ll be quite some time before we see this come to fruition. Despite Joe Madden and Kevin Cash making and keeping, respectively, the Rays contenders, it feels like the last time they saw a sold-out stadium was when they were giving out those obnoxious cowbells. In actual news, Wander Franco signed an 11-year/$182 million deal that—if Franco lives up to his potential as a perennial All-Star—should prove to be a steal for the Rays as they look to build the team around their young shortstop. Hopefully, the team that won the AL East can go a little further in next year’s playoffs, provided they don’t order champagne after winning Game 1 of the ALDS.

  1. Milwaukee (95 – 67) / Boston (92 – 70)

This one isn’t a signing, but hear me out. Minutes before the MLB lockout went into effect, the Brewers (first place in the NL Central) and Red Sox (second place in the AL East) managed to complete a trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee in exchange for Jackie Bradley, Jr., David Hamilton, and Alex Binelas. Renfroe had a resurgent regular season, putting up some serious power numbers in the process, but his bat went cold in October. Jackie Bradley, Jr. will give the Red Sox back their long-time Gold Glove-caliber centerfielder and provide a bit of stability to one of the league’s most difficult outfields to cover. Milwaukee needed the offense; Boston needed the defense. While simple in concept, this trade should have major impacts on both teams.

There are plenty of big names left to be signed after the end of the MLB lockout, like Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Carlos Rodón, and Trevor Story just to name a few. With universal DH looming on the horizon, predictions about where each player will land are about to get a whole lot more interesting. An abundance of offseason news is still ready for the making, and surely there will be a media frenzy about every big-name signing, but the league and the player’s union need to come to an agreement and a start date before we can even begin to get excited again.

If I left out a signing, a team, or a player, let me know in the comments or let me know on Twitter @prof_spoopy.

Written by Ryan Fay

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