I think we expected a few free-agent signings this week before an expected lockout hits Thursday, but nothing like what happened Sunday.
It was kind of like a winter version of the trade deadline, constantly refreshing Twitter to see who’d signed next.
Sunday, we got news of the signings of Marcus Semien (Rangers), Kevin Gausman (Blue Jays) and a passel of rumors matching Max Scherzer to the Mets, though that’s not a done deal yet.
Why is this happening? Here’s the likely answer:
Why the crazy rush of deals this weekend? Multiple executives believe that if deals aren’t agreed to by tomorrow night, it’s unlikely they can get completed with physicals, language, etc, by Wednesday night when the CBA is set to expire. Could be a crazy 24 hours.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 29, 2021
“Tomorrow night” refers to tonight, so I’d expect another flurry today, Monday, with the Scherzer signing possibly happening. And speaking of Scherzer:
I love the optics of Scherzer, who is part of the union brain trust, pushing hard to get a deal done before the lockout. "No, seriously, things will be better in February, guys!"— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) November 29, 2021
Seriously, though, this could be of help to other free agents, as pointed out by former SB Nation writer Marc Normandin:
The biggest free agents removing doubt from the whole situation is probably a good thing for unity during a lockout, I'd think. They know they'll get paid once it's over, where they're going to be for a few years, etc. They can focus on the needs of the guys without that.— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) November 29, 2021
Not only is Scherzer part of the “union brain trust,” as Craig Calcaterra put it, but so is Semien. Here is the first tweet of a long thread that helps explain further:
It's really an early market. The lockout tactic is making this happen. It's really the opposite of what it was intended to do. It was supposed to whipsaw the players who didn't have contracts, so that they put pressure on the Union to make a deal. But, so many players are 1/ https://t.co/NRj9rPr0mM— (((EugeneFreedman))) (@EugeneFreedman) November 29, 2021
Here is the rest of Eugene Freedman’s thread, which is definitely worth reading. (FWIW, Freedman is a labor lawyer who often writes about baseball.) Freedman’s conclusion:
Anyway, this is a long thread to say that the individual clubs are on to the BS of a lockout as much as many of us on Baseball Twitter. And, the clubs have taken a lot of the air out of the balloon already. There will be even more signings over the next few days. Manfred has to be really upset.
So, that’s probably good — anything that makes Rob Manfred upset works for me.
Let’s talk for a moment about how this affects the Chicago Cubs. Obviously, they haven’t done anything this winter, with the exception of the waiver claim of Wade Miley (which, incidentally, given the huge contracts handed out this past weekend, is looking like a better and better shrewd move).
“Why aren’t the Cubs doing anything?” “They’re getting behind while the other teams are signing all the players!”
Let’s stipulate this right now: The offseason is not a competition. Often, teams that are perceived to have “won” the offseason don’t do well during the subsequent season. You need look no further than last year’s Mets and Padres for examples of that. Both teams got praises for all their moves in the 2020-21 winter. Both teams watched the playoffs the same way we did — on their couches at home. The Mets won only six more games than the Cubs did.
So far, the only player signed by anyone who I’d liked to have seen with the Cubs is Jon Gray, who signed with the Rangers for four years and $56 million. In the article I wrote about Gray as a Cubs FA target two weeks ago, I noted that MLB Trade Rumors forecast exactly that contract for Gray. I thought the Cubs might be able to get him for a bit less. It didn’t happen. That doesn’t mean the Cubs can’t spend “intelligently” and sign some talented players. Yes, Jed Hoyer’s “intelligent spending” statement has been mocked — but why is it wrong? Are the Texas Rangers — who lost 102 games in 2021 — suddenly going to be a contender by signing Semien and Gray?
And so, we wait. I tend to agree with Mark Feinsand, whose tweet I posted at the top of this article. There might be another flurry of signings today, since teams need a couple of days for medicals and paperwork before signings are official, and the lockout is likely happening at the end of the day Wednesday. Also, the non-tender deadline was moved up by MLB to tomorrow, November 30, which means a few dozen more free agents could be dumped on the market by the end of the day Tuesday. It seems unlikely that any of the non-tenders will sign before the lockout.
Use this post to comment on any of the things above, or any signings today. If the Cubs do sign anyone today, of course there will be a separate post.
I’ll leave you with this comment made on Twitter about the Cubs’ claim of Wade Miley:
In a world in which Jon Gray gets four years and $56 million, I wonder what kind of prospect the Reds would have gotten for Wade Miley if they had just not panicked and picked up his option.— Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) November 29, 2021
... and this one about the Mets:
Will the Mets improve with all of these good players or will the good players simply become Mets? I love a good mystery.— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) November 29, 2021