After one of the craziest Major League Baseball trade deadlines of all time, the offseason was set to be an interesting one. Some of the best players in all of baseball were set to be free agents with many teams that had an abundance of money available. Even though people knew this offseason was going to be interesting, people did not expect this level of crazy. Within the past week, multiple top players have changed teams and changed the landscape of the MLB.
The first major move of the offseason came from the Detroit Tigers. According to ESPN, on Nov. 15, the Tigers signed starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to a five year contract worth 77 million dollars. This was a big signing for the Tigers because it showed that the Tigers were done rebuilding. For the past few years, the Tigers have been a below average team, but they have been slowly accumulating solid young players through the draft and international signings. After being last in their division in 2020, the Tigers jumped to third in the division in 2021. The team is ready to compete with young players such as Akil Baddoo and Casey Mize. They showed their readiness with this first big signing. However, they were not done there. According to reporter Jeff Passan, the Tigers were looking into one of the best shortstops in the league to fill their issues at that position. This shortstop was Carlos Correa, and he is set to get a very large contract for his excellent defense and above average hitting. However, almost out of nowhere, the Tigers appeared to change directions after believing Correa was going to cost them too much. Instead, they turned to shortstop Javier Baez to fill that role. Baez is a former Most Valuable Player award runner up and Gold Glove defender. He is a star that cost them significantly less than what Correa would have cost them. This signing further showed that the Tigers are no longer rebuilding. It is time for them to compete.
Another big signing came by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. According to ESPN, the Angels signed starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard to a one year 21 million dollar contract. This signing confused many fans as Syndergaard had made it clear that he wanted to remain with his former team the New York Mets. Additionally, fans were confused because the contract gave Syndergaard a lot of money even though he barely pitched last season. In 2021, he only pitched in two innings due to an injury. His signing was a major risk for the Angels because there is no guarantee how good he is going to be for the 2022 season, considering he has pitched so little for the past two years. This signing shows that the Angles are desperate. Fans have been complaining about how the team has failed to address their starting pitching issues. They have outfielder Mike Trout who is one of the best players in the league, but they have done nothing to help him. The Syndergaard signing displays that the front office is done messing around and they are just going after good pitching regardless of the risk.
The next signing was more impactful for another team than the team the player actually signed with. According to ESPN, starting pitcher Steven Matz signed with the Cardinals on a four year 44 million dollar contract. Although this was a good signing for the Cardinals, what happened next was crazy. Mets owner Steven Cohen publicly talked about how unprofessional Matz, and his agent were through the signing process. Cohen believed Matz was set to return to the Mets, but at the last second Matz changed his mind as the Cardinals gave a better offer. After that, Cohen took complete control of the offseason. Cohen and the Mets then signed the best free agent outfielder Starling Marte to a four year 78 million dollar contract. On the same day, they signed infielder Eduardo Escobar to a two year 20 million dollar contract. They were not done. After missing out on Matz, Cohen refused to get outbid by anyone else. So, he then went after the best starting pitcher available. Former Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer was by far the best pitcher on the market. Scherzer got offers from multiple teams, but Cohen refused to get outbid. The Mets proceeded to sign Scherzer to a three year 130 million dollar contract. That means Scherzer is going to get paid 43.3 million dollars a year. This broke the record for the highest yearly salary for a pitcher. Not only did it break the record, but the contract was given to a player who was 37 years old. So, the Mets are going to pay him 43.3 million dollars when he turns 40. Mets fans did not care as they believed they had the best starting pitcher duo in the league. The Mets already have starting pitcher Jacob deGrom and now they have Scherzer. At this point Steve Cohen has shown that money is king. Nothing matters when you can just pay more than any other team. The Mets may continue to make even more signings and put themselves in the conversation for World Series favorites.
Two teams made very impactful contract extensions during the offseason so far. The Minnesota Twins extended outfielder Byron Buxton with a seven year 100-million-dollar contract. At the time, this appeared to be a steal considering Buxton, when healthy, is one of the best players in all of baseball. However, the contract has additional incentives if he is healthy. Buxton’s issue has always been staying on the field. When he has played, he has been good. The issue is that he always gets injured. Buxton’s extension is so impactful because his contract is not costing the Twins a lot, so if he is healthy, they are getting a steal for a top player in the league. The other impactful extension came from the Tampa Bay Rays. They gave young super star shortstop Wander Franco a 12 year 185 million dollar contract after playing just one season. The Rays are a team that is known for not spending a lot of money. According to Spotrac, their highest paid player of 2021, was outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and it was for 11 million dollars. Oftentimes, when one of their players starts to get too expensive, they trade them. So many fans were surprised to see Franco get paid. Not only was he paid a large portion, but he was paid after only playing one season. Although Franco is only 20 years old, he showed in the regular season and postseason why he is a generational talent and that he deserved the extension. As of now he will remain on the Rays and continue to torment other teams for many years to come.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners both made big starting pitching signings. Although they signed very different players, they are similar as they both have pitched only one good season. According to ESPN, the Blue Jays signed starting pitcher Kevin Gausman to a five year 110 million dollar contract. The Mariners proceeded to sign former Blue Jay Robbie Ray to a five year 115 million dollar contract. Both players had excellent 2021 seasons. Ray even won the Cy Young award for the American League. However, signing both pitchers have a high level of risk included. Before the 2021 season, Ray had been a below average pitcher for his career. It wasn’t until this year that he had a good season. Is it possible that the 2021 season was a fluke? Not only is there a chance that he got lucky in this past season, but he is also 30 years old, so there is a chance he regresses quickly with his age. Gausman is in a similar situation. Before 2020, Gausman was mostly a below average pitcher with some decent seasons occasionally. That was until 2021 where he was truly an elite pitcher. The question for both players is: Did they figure out how to pitch to their full potential, or did they just have a fluke season? The two signings were big because the Mariners and the Blue Jays are on the cusp of being one of the top teams in baseball. Both teams have a lot of young talent, so they are gearing up to compete very soon. Are these signings going to pay off and help them compete in the playoffs, or are we going to see all that money go to waste?
The final two big signings were possibly the most surprising of them all. According to ESPN, the Texas Rangers signed infielder Marcus Semien to a seven year 175 million dollar contract and infielder Corey Seager to a 10 year 325 million dollar contract. Both players are very deserving of these contracts. Semien just set the record for the most home runs hit by a second baseman in a season. Seager has been a very good shortstop for the Dodgers for the past seven years. The contracts themselves are not surprising, it is instead the team that signed them. In 2020 and 2021, the Rangers finished in last place in their division. The team traded away their best player in the middle of the 2021 season. It appeared as if the Rangers were in a complete rebuild. Within the next few years, the team could be ready to compete behind the likes of starting pitcher Jack Leiter and infielder Josh Jung. However, the Rangers decided that they were done rebuilding. Instead, they went out and committed to signing two of the best infielders in the free agent market. Between Semien and Seager, the Rangers have committed half a billion dollars. The Rangers also signed starting pitcher Jon Gray to a contract to further bolster their lineup. Most teams spend a lot of time working on a rebuild. They slowly get prospects and develop them into star players. For example, the Nationals were one of the worst teams in baseball before 2010, but then they drafted outfielder Bryce Harper, starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg and infielder Anthony Rendon. Within a few years they were playoff contenders. It is normally a long process for teams to be ready to compete, however the Rangers were done waiting. They believe that they are ready to make a playoff run. The team still has many holes to fill, but at this point who knows how many more players the team is going to sign. They are truly unpredictable, and this crazy offseason might just be what they need to put them back into contention.
There are many other big free agents that have yet to sign to a team. Carlos Correa has still not been signed. Former Colorado Rockies All-Star shortstop Trevor Story also has not been signed yet. First baseman Freddie Freeman and outfielder Nicholas Castellanos have yet to be signed. There are plenty of signings to go before this offseason is done, so the craziness is not over yet. Additionally, to add onto the free agents are the players that have been floated around in trade talks. Third baseman Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Guardians has been brought up in trade talks. First baseman Matt Olson of the Oakland Athletics has frequently been discussed in trades. Even closer Craig Kimbrel of the Chicago White Sox has been talked about. This offseason is already one of the craziest we have ever seen and there is still so much to go. Even though it is hard to predict what is going to happen next, we know that teams that we didn’t expect to get significantly better are making big signings. We may soon see a league where no team is bad if teams like the Rangers are making big splashes. MLB has just entered a lockout period due to a disagreement between the players and team owners. This has resulted in a freeze on trades and free agent signings. However, once both sides have come to an agreement, the madness will continue.