The union baseball community has broken down and any ring pursuit will have to wait for players and owners to throw their differences into the lake of fire and come to a settlement.
But just because it will be some time before both sides come to some sort of resolution, that doesn’t mean we have to stop discussing what might / should happen when the sport finally resumes.
Because when it does, and teams are allowed to sign free agents and re-trade, you’re going to see a flurry of activity. It’ll probably be a lot of fun, honestly, to see free agents sign deals and see teams trade after trade. After all, what are the front office guys going to do during the lockdown, other than plan their comeback strategy?
MORE: Every Team’s Vacation Wish List
We therefore examine division by division what is on file for the 30 teams. Today, it is the AL Est.
Tampa Bay Rays
Summary before locking: The offseason headline – whatever happens next – will ink Wander Franco to massive extension that should benefit both the player and the team. He’s a centerpiece who posted a bWAR of 3.5 in just 70 games during his season at 20. They also signed starter Corey Kluber and reliever Brooks Raley.
The very first thing to do: Add a bat. The Rays were pretty candid that it was a priority this offseason. Does that mean Nelson Cruz is coming back as DH? We’ll see what the outfield looks like in 2022. Trading with longtime center fielder Kevin Kiermaier is an option. If he does, it opens up an outfield spot for increased offensive production.
Also on the list: Ace Tyler Glasnow is out for 2022 following Tommy John surgery, then is a free agent after the 2023 season. Knowing the Rays, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them trade him now – and avoid paying his salary from 2022 while injured – in exchange for prospects. Glasnow is good enough that teams almost certainly feel the risk is worth acquiring a player of his ilk for a 2023 World Series push.
Red Sox de Boston
Summary before locking: The Sox traded Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for old friend Jackie Bradley Jr. and a few prospects. They also signed rebound contender James Paxton, as well as veterans Rich Hill and Michael Wacha for the rotational mix. Those four acquisitions – JBJ, Paxton, Hill and Wacha – could become key contributors, or all four could be out of the equation by the time the stars break. Neither would be shocking. They also lost Eduardo Rodriguez, who signed a long-term deal with the Tigers; he had made at least 20 starts in every full season since 2015.
The very first thing to do: The JBJ for Renfroe swap is a huge success for Boston programming; Renfroe hit 31 home runs with an .816 OPS, while Bradley had just six home runs with a .497 OPS. So, yes, the Red Sox need to be budget flexible and land a big chunk in the lineup. Nick Castellanos makes a lot of sense; he can play outfield until JD Martinez’s contract ends, then take his place as an All-Star caliber DH.
Also on the list: Pitch, again. Rotation options and bullpen aid. Second base, maybe?
PRIORITIES AFTER LOCKOUT: NL East | NL Central | Newfoundland and Labrador West
Yankees de New York
Summary before locking: Yankees fans are thrilled with the huge free agent contract for Carlos Correa and the aggressive trade for Matt Olson… oh, wait. The Yankees have done next to nothing as many other teams have been busy spending, trading and improving their rosters.
The very first thing to do: Something. Whatever. Bühler? If the Yankees don’t announce a trade or sign in the first few days after the lockout ends, you’re going to see a lot of angry Yankees fans. And, no, signing Andrelton Simmons to play the shortstop doesn’t count. Carlos Correa still makes sense, even if it will be expensive. Trevor Story could also join his pal and former Rockies teammate DJ LeMahieu in the Bronx at a shortstop.
Also on the list: Brian Cashman has made it clear he’s open to looking for a center fielder. And it looks like the club aren’t fixated on Luke Voit at first base; Bringing back Anthony Rizzo is an option, as is trading for Oakland’s Matt Olson.
Blue Jays de Toronto
Summary before locking: The Jays lost free agents Marcus Semien (third in the AL MVP vote) and Robbie Ray (won AL Cy Young), but signed Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios for a long-term extension. Reliever Yimi Garcia is also a solid addition to the reliever box.
The very first thing to do: Replacing Semien’s bat seems pretty important, eh? They could hire Kris Bryant to play at third base and bring Cavan Biggio back to second, hoping for a rebounding season from the Hall of Famer son. They might try to trade for third baseman Matt Chapman, a defensive mainstay who struggled at home plate in 2021. Some Jays fans want the team to trade for Jose Ramirez, but that could be overkill. Maybe bring in Kyle Seager for a one-year contract?
Also on the list: The enclosure still needs weapons. The rotation is solid at the moment – Gausman, Berrios, Alex Manoah, Hyun Jin Ryu and Nate Pearson – but starting depth is still needed.
Orioles de Baltimore
Summary before locking: The first month of the offseason for the Orioles was a lot like their last three full 162-game seasons: not much to get excited about. During those three years, the O’s lost 110, 108 and 115 games. In the first month of the offseason, they signed a pitcher who allowed the most homers in the majors last year (Jordan Lyles) and an infielder with a 78 OPS + and a minus-0, 5 bWAR over the past three years (Rougned Odor).
The very first thing to do: Maybe, and we’re just spitting here, signing a few players who will help the team not lose 110 games? Right now, the O’s projected payroll for 2022 is $ 40.4 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. That’s the lowest in the AL (Cleveland is next, at $ 46.6) ahead of just Pittsburgh ($ 34.4) and essentially half the Rays ($ 79.8).
Also on the list: And then, sign a few more.