The 2022 Major League Baseball season is currently threatened by negotiations between the team owners and the MLB Players Association. With many hot topics being discussed (like salary floors and team control), the stubbornness of the owners might create a standstill that leaks into the spring. However, this has not stopped teams from getting in on one of the best free agency classes in recent memory. With many huge names off the board, certain teams are declaring a stance of competitiveness for the next couple of years.
Predictably, the New York Mets are making more huge commitments to putting an elite product on the field. Steve Cohen is entering just his second season as the Mets’ owner and has not been even remotely conservative with his money. After huge moves to acquire Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez over the last year, his second wave is including:
· Marlins/Athletics outfielder Starling Marte (4 years/$78 million)
· Athletics outfielder Mark Canha (2/$26)
· Diamondbacks/Brewers third baseman Eduardo Escobar (2/$20)
However, no signing so far has been bigger than the acquisition of Max Scherzer. The 37-year-old pitcher has eight all-star appearances, three Cy Young awards, and won the 2019 World Series with the Washington Nationals. Coming off one of his best career years, he broke records with his new Mets contract where he is set to make 130 million dollars over the next three years.
The Los Angeles Angels have looked relatively proactive in this market. With three remarkable talents on their team in Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Anthony Rendon, they have struggled to put together any seriously competitive seasons. While not as flashy as the Mets, they have made a number of reasonable moves to try and capitalize on what they already have by:
· Re-signing their star closer Raisel Iglesias (4/$53)
· Acquiring Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard (1/$21)
The Texas Rangers shocked the baseball world by committing whole-heartedly to a competitive roster when they appeared to be entering a rebuilding phase. Their new players include:
· Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (10/$325)
· Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien (7/$175)
· Rockies pitcher Jon Gray (4/$56)
· Diamondbacks outfielder Kole Calhoun (1/$5)
You read those numbers right. They have spent more in free agency than they did on their entire 2021 team roster. Semien and Seager are looking to be elite players and hopefully, the Rangers can build a half-decent team around them.
The story of the Pacific Northwest, however, is in the Seattle Mariners. With a good core of young players already under team control for several years, fans were clamoring for general manager Jerry DiPoto to open his wallet and turn this team into a true contender. Their first two moves have been a very promising start so far:
· Signing reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray (5/$115)
· Trading for infielder Adam Frazier from the Padres
The Mariners will hopefully build off of these with even more adds over the next couple of months, but there’s no doubting the commitment they have in making a playoff push in 2022.
Of course, nearly every team is dipping into the free-agent market. It’s historically good and there are plenty of incredible players to go around:
· Javier Baez to the Tigers (6/$140)
· Kevin Gausman to the Blue Jays (5/$110)
· Marcus Stroman to the Cubs (3/$71)
· Justin Verlander to the Astros (2/$50)
· Anthony DeSclafani to the Giants (3/$36)
The free agency is in full swing and it has been one hell of a rollercoaster to witness players in jerseys of teams they have never played with before. Plenty of big names are still on the board (Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant, Trevor Story) and no team is really out of it yet. It will be exciting to see if the Mariners add any remaining players, like Story or Kyle Schwarber. 2022 could indeed usher in a new legacy that baseball fans never saw coming.