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Roundtable: 2022 Potential Post Lockout Contracts For MLB Free Agents

Free agent

Free agent
(Ben Margot/Associated Press)

Roundtable: 2022 Potential Post Lockout Contracts For MLB Free Agents

This lockout has been dragging on a bit too long. With everyone’s heads in the clouds and Ken Rosenthal jobless, what can we do? The answer is not much. We were left blue balled in early December, especially with the remaining free agents left on the table. The real question is where will they go and how much will they be offered?

Clayton Kershaw – Texas Rangers, 3 years $75 million (Milo Coulter)

Kershaw is not the pitcher he once was but he has plentiful value. The 33-year-old has persisted the last five years as an elite pitcher despite constant injuries, posting an ERA of 2.60 between 2016-21. Teams are aware of this which is why I think nobody will give him a contract longer than three years.

I predict he’ll sign with Texas, as his family is based out of there. Clearly, the Rangers are looking to compete with the signings of Marcus Semien, and former teammate Corey Seager. Who knows how he’ll actually do, but he’ll be closer to his roots and perhaps feel less of the stress of the spotlight. He already accomplished so much in LA, including a World Series Ring and an MVP award.

Freddie Freeman – Atlanta Braves, 6 years $200 million (Milo Coulter)

Freeman is among the most respected baseball players in the entire sport. He is the rock of Atlanta and has had this role his entire career. Freeman to leave the place that made him who he is would be foolish. Especially when he averages 28 home runs and 97 runs batted in per season while slashing .295/.384/.509.

His illustrious career includes an MVP in 2020, and now a World Series ring in 2021. He’ll remain with the team that gave him these opportunities as a leader on the field. Not only is he the leader of the team, but he’s also a mentor for younger players who’ve risen up like Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson.

Kris Bryant – Los Angeles Dodgers, 5 years $150 million (Milo Coulter)

Many don’t realize this but Kris Bryant is incredibly versatile. He can play practically any position with the exception of pitcher and catcher while competing at an elite level. As always, the Dodgers have incredibly deep pockets and look for players like this. With their recent re-signing of Chris Taylor, they need another player who can play both infield and outfield, but who can also hit 30 home runs with 100 runs batted in.

The Dodgers also just lost Corey Seager to Texas but now opens up a spot for an infielder. Let’s not forget that Justin Turner is all of a sudden 37 years old. With the DH destined for the National League, Justin may very well fill that void, leaving third base for Bryant.

Kenley Jansen – Philadelphia Phillies, 3 years $50 million (Milo Coulter)

The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t need Kenley. It’s a sad fate for the fanbase, provided he gave them a decade of memories. The 34-year-old closer has dealt with up and down seasons, looking either fantastic or terrible. In 2020 and 21, manager Dave Roberts depended on Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol as their closers when Kenley wasn’t pitching to his previous high standard. This was a common occurrence evidently, despite posting a 2.22 ERA with 38 saves. Trust is an issue for Jansen.

Philadelphia seems like the ideal landing spot because it’s a team on the rise and just a few pieces away from being elite. The offense is there but the bullpen needs a lot of help. They ranked 11th in the NL with a 4.60 ERA. Jansen could actually provide relief, and the Phillies could potentially compete with New York and Atlanta.

Seiya Suzuki – Boston Red Sox, 5 years $55 million (Evan Kinsey)

Probably one of if not the most eye-opening free agents of this year’s class. Playing for the Hiroshima Carp in the Japan Central League last year, Suzuki hit .317/.639/1.072. He slugged 38 home runs while playing a strong center field: 13 outfield assists, only 3 errors in 127 games. 

My Prediction? He’s signed by the Boston Red Sox. Suzuki was following the Red Sox on Instagram for a while in early December but later unfollowed them. He wasn’t following any other MLB team either. Earlier today, an interview between Suzuki and former Red Sox WS Champion Koji Uehara was conducted, and in a translated tweet, alluded to Suzuki going to Boston. Boston does have Kiké Hernandez for another year, but I’m sure they could figure it out if they land the international superstar. 

Nick Castellanos – Detroit Tigers, 6 years $110 millon (opt-out after 4) (Evan Kinsey)

Castellanos never really received the attention he deserved early in his career with the Tigers. After a down year in the 2020 60-game season, Castellanos put together a very successful 2021 campaign. Outside of 2020, Castellanos has never produced a wRC+ under 122 since 2017. Nevertheless, wherever he goes will certainly reap the benefits. 

Prediction: I think Nick is going to go back to where it all started and sign with the Detroit Tigers. Castellanos never really got avid playing time in 2013 or 2014, the last time Detroit was competitive. However, Detroit has since begun to make strides as a team I believe. They signed Eduardo Rodriguez early in the offseason, have Robbie Grossman in the outfield, Akil Badoo, and whether you like him or not, A.J. Hinch, who as much as it pains me to say it, is a good manager. Detroit also has the second-best farm in baseball, they aren’t as far away as many think. 

Anthony Rizzo – Los Angeles Dodgers, 3 years $52 million (Evan Kinsey)

Rizzo was traded to the Yankees last year in what was a rather unexpected trade. The first baseman had his moments in the Bronx, but was battling COVID for a while and never really looked like himself when he returned. Nevertheless, Rizzo still is a capable first baseman and will probably land a 3-year deal somewhere, but where? 

Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers. To me, I think it’s really between them and the Yankees. Rizzo and the Yankees developed a good relationship last year, but I think they’re really keen on trading for Athletics first baseman Matt Olsen. The Dodgers already lost both Corey Seager and Max Scherzer, and while they were able to re-sign utility man Chris Taylor, players such as Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen are still free agents. The move would ultimately slide Max Muncy over to second base, and Trea Turner would be the everyday shortstop with Seager gone. 

Michael Conforto – Milwuakee Brewers, 5 years, $75 million (Evan Kinsey)

Michael Conforto turned down his qualifying offer of $18.4 million on November 8th, and it’s really interesting to see where the OF will land. While Conforto wasn’t great last year, he is under Scott Boras, who always commands a big day for his players. The Mets did try to extend Conforto last year during spring training but were not able to. 

Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers made a splash when they traded for Hunter Renfroe, who had a great season playing right field last year for the Red Sox. While Renfroe will immensely help their offensive woes, their outfield still has a lot of question marks. Christian Yelich has fallen off a cliff, Avisial Garcia left during free agency, and they flipped Jackie Bradley Jr. in their trade for Renfroe. Conforto had his ups and downs in Flushing, and perhaps a move to Milwaukee could bring out the best in him. 







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