Winter is here, and the expected long layoff until MLB and the MLBPA agree to a new collective bargaining agreement will be a lot colder for some teams and their fan bases than it will be for others.
The Rangers were aggressive before the lockdown hit, signing middle infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to massive deals and bringing Jon Gray in to help shore up the rotation. The Mets locked down Max Scherzer, plus Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha. The Tigers brought in Javier Baez and Eduardo Rodriguez.
Fans of those clubs are happy, with the big presents wrapped and under the tree. But for fans of other teams — and other players still out there — the waiting just might be the hardest part.
Let’s look at five teams and five players in limbo throughout the lockout.
Teams in limbo
Few fans bases watched the free-agent frenzy with more angst than Yankees fans. They heard what they wanted to hear early in the offseason — the Yankees said they needed a shortstop, said they were open to someone other than the oft-injured Aaron Hicks in center field and that they were planning to raise payroll in 2022. Good start, right? Nothing of note has happened for the Yankees, though. They watched the Rangers — the RANGERS, of all teams — give $500 million to two guys who would have been perfect fits at shortstop at Yankee Stadium. And this is almost going to be the tweet that haunts Yankees fans all lockout …
The 2022 A’s will have a lot of different player profile pics, once those pics return to the MLB.com team roster pages. The club is in sell-off mode, with the Matts — first baseman Olson and third baseman Chapman — certain to leave when things resume. And teams shopping for rotation upgrades will be calling the A’s, because Chris Bassett, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea would all be big upgrades for teams looking to solidify playoff-bound rotations. The asking prices will be high, which just might be perfect for the short time between the signing of the new CBA and the eventual start of the 2022 season.
The consistent inconsistency over the past four years has been profoundly maddening for Phillies fans; the club’s finishes, in order: two games under .500, exactly .500, four games under .500 and two games over .500. Nothing speaks more directly to the top-heavy problems the Phillies have better than the fact that Bryce Harper won the 2021 MVP and Zack Wheeler finished second in the Cy Young voting and the club barely finished over .500. They need as many upgrades in the bullpen as possible — seriously, they should sign every reliever out there — and need upgrades in center field, shortstop and left field. Is Alec Bohm the long-term answer at third base? He certainly didn’t look like it in 2021.